Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne took out a full-page ad in Florence newspaper La Nazione on Thursday to deny making offensive comments about the Tuscan city and its 37-year-old mayor, Matteo Renzi. Addressing ''all citizens of Florence'' in an open letter, Marchionne said he had ''never made any judgement about Florence or its economic conditions'', in reference to comments allegedly made during a closed-door meeting with students in Brussels this month describing the Tuscan city as ''small and poor''.
He also denied describing Renzi, a member of the Democratic Party (PD) who has called for Italy's political class to be rejuvenated and is running in primaries to be the centre-left's candidate for premier in next year's elections, as ''a bad copy of Obama''. ''Someone else present, trying to explain the topic of discussion to the foreigners, used the expression 'pretty, old town', not me. I never described the mayor of Florence as a bad copy of anyone,'' wrote Marchionne, adding that he hoped the matter could now be considered closed. In an interview with 'Corriere della Sera' published Thursday, Marchionne also reiterated that Fiat is commitment to investing in Italy ''in order tocompete with the Germans''.
''Then there will be the complete merger of Fiat with Chrysler,'' he said.
The Fiat chief also said he intended to fully relaunch the five Fiat production plants in Italy and to get 23,000 workers who have been temporarily laid off back to work.