Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

Fiat move to the United States? Sacrilege

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Today’s special report, “Can an Italian Elvis make Fiat- Chrysler dance?” is stirring up a storm in Italy, where the suggestion that one of the country’s most hallowed institutions might up sticks and move to America is a big deal.

Here’s the critical part of the report:

This year, Marchionne had to rush to meet Berlusconi and Italian cabinet members to reassure them Fiat would “keep its heart” in Italy. In February he’d stirred up a ruckus among Italian politicians by flagging the possibility that Fiat might escape Italy’s died-in-the-wool unions and move the merged company’s headquarters to the United States within two years.

Chairman John Elkann was swift to assert that Fiat would not abandon homebase Turin, and Marchionne duly made an appearance in parliament to support him. But people familiar with his strategy say Marchionne is nonetheless keen to make such a move. The idea — which has not yet been discussed with Fiat’s board — includes keeping Turin as the centre for European operations and creating a possible separate hub in Asia, these people say. 

 ”The location where you establish the legal HQ is where you pay taxes,” said the second top Fiat source. “If I pay 70 percent tax in Italy and only 30 percent in the U.S., it’s a no brainer where to go.”

Have Europe’s unions had their day?

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Here in Europe, as spending cuts bite ever deeper, you might expect people to have taken to the streets in their thousands and be up in arms, in defence of the hard-won rights that this round of austerity is threatening. Some are, but not in anything like the numbers they have been in the past. With a Europe-wide day of action coming up on Sept 29 that may change…

But, so far at least, the most remarkable thing has been just how tame the strikes have been, how ineffective the unions look. Why is it that? Are Europe’s unions less powerful? Or less relevant? Sarah Morris in Spain and Gavin Jones in Italy found a host of reasons why young and old today are not rallying to the cause — and not just that they’re scared of losing their jobs.