The Agnelli family's financial arm Exor, through which it controls Fiat-Chrysler, intends to make fewer investments and focus more attention on those that are more competitive, Exor chairman John Elkann told a company meeting on Tuesday. "We intend to continue to monitor our investments and to further simplify them. Our target is to reduce the perimeter of our activities," the 36-year-old industrialist and great-great grandson of Fiat founder Giovanni Agnelli said. "We believe it is important to engage in fewer activities and to do this on a worldwide basis. We have progressively followed this path with the sale of Alpitour and expansion in Chrysler," he added. In his report to shareholders, Elkann said Exor could sell off between 225-250 million euros in investments, adding that "we do not have a precise timetable for this and want to find the most opportune solutions for each single subsidiary". Through Fiat, Exor also controls the automotive marques Chrysler, Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Lancia, as well as the Fiat spinoff Fiat Industrial that produces farm and earth-moving equipment, trucks and buses. The holding company also has controlling stakes in Serie A soccer champions Juventus as well as in several investment companies, banks and publishing companies.
An investment Exor intends to expand in is itself, Elkann said, because "the shares we have bought back and those we intend to buy back are not only necessary for stock option plans but also represent a good investment". According to the Exor chairman, the Agnelli family holding company continues to examine proposals to simplify its stock capital along the same lines it followed when it spun off Fiat Industrial, when it eliminated savings and preferred shares, although this will not be simple nor imminent. "We saw the way the market reacted positively to the simplification of Fiat capital. Merchant banks continue to offer proposals that we examine with attention," Elkann said. "The current structure of Exor's capital reflects our history. From the merger of IFI-IFIL we inherited not only common shares but also preferred and savings shares". In regard to Italy, the chairman said "Exor will continue to invest in Italy. In the past five years, during a period of crisis, Fiat Industrial invested three billion euros and Fiat almost 10 million euros. But we cannot be obliged to invest, the country has to want us investment, too". Fiat has promised to invest 20 billion euros in the Italian automobile sector but on the condition that it be allowed to revise labor contacts in order to boost productivity. This has resulted in clashes with unions and a break with the national industrialists association Confindustria. Nevertheless, Fiat has been able to renegotiate contracts for several of its plants and in return has moved from Poland to Italy the production of its best-selling Panda city car. During the shareholders' meeting, Elkann said Exor had also examined the feasibility of investing in Formula One car racing but had determined that the cost was too high. Tuesday's shareholders' meeting was held in the new Juventus stadium here, Elkann said, to "demonstrate what investment means in facts, not words. We wanted to show you in a tangible way how one can respond to a moment of difficulty. This stadium is an example of what can be done. This is the biggest investment in Turin in a long time and one of the most modern stadiums in Europe today". "We also organized it to celebrate a very positive season, that concluded with our winning the championship," he added. "Juve not only achieved great results on the pitch, it also carried out a successful rights issue to increase capital by 120 million euros and we expect revenue to increase over the next year. This will be possible thanks to expanding the stadium area with the inauguration, a few weeks ago, of a museum that is generating positive results in terms of visitor attendance," he added. Elkann reaffirmed the company's confidence in Juve coach Antonio Conte, who has been placed under investigation in Italy's latest match-fixing scandal in connection with his previous post as Siena boss.