Fiat's Silent Partners

Ties to Libya prove embarrassing for the Italian automaker

In most ways, business could not be better for Fiat and its charismatic chairman, Gianni Agnelli. The Italian conglomerate, which manufactures such high-tech equipment as robotics and telecommunications systems, as well as autos and other vehicles, has come roaring back from a string of losses in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Fiat's profits increased 113% last year, to a record $884 million on sales of $18 billion. But the company has been unable to escape an increasingly embarrassing problem: about 15% of its stock is owned by Libya, and two representatives from the land of Muammar Gaddafi sit on Fiat's...

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