It was just days ago that we reported that General Motors was suing Fiat, alleging that the automaker paid bribes to the UAW in order to secure favorable terms during labor negotiations.
Now, Fiat is having their say.
The company’s Chairman, John Elkann, publicly rejected the allegations against the company’s late CEO, Sergio Marchionne. Elkann said on Thursday: “We are not worried. I’m disappointed over the false accusations against Marchionne, who can’t defend himself.”
Later in the day on Thursday, GM CEO Mary Barra commented on the suit, saying it was “not a decision that we made lightly” and that its intent was to level the playing field, according to the Detroit News. “When we saw facts indicated that that was not the case, we felt it was in the best interest of all our stakeholders in the company,” Barra said.
The charges threaten to tarnish the legacy of Marchionne, who is known for turning Fiat around. They may also wind up complicating the company’s plans to merger with Peugeot owner PSA.
Marco Opipari, an analyst with Fidentiis Equities said: “The lawsuit comes at a very delicate time for FCA, which also is negotiating a new labor contract. This is not a lighting bolt in the clear sky, as the federal anti-corruption investigation is ongoing.”
Fiat commented on Thursday that its talks with Peugeot were “progressing well” and that it expects a binding memorandum of understanding by the end of the year.
Elkann said the lawsuit came as a surprise, but that it didn’t contain any new revelations. “There are no grounds for what we are being accused of,” he said.
In the lawsuit against Fiat, General Motors alleges that Fiat corrupted collective bargaining agreements between GM and the UAW in 2009, 2011 and 2015 by paying million of dollars in bribes.