Fiat’s shareholders traditionally – for the past century or so – held their annual meetings in Italy, in recent times using the company’s Lingotto factory because of its rooftop racetrack.
Now 2015 is the year of change, with the meeting reflecting the firm’s transition to an international vocation and its location set for a luxury hotel in Amsterdam’s red light district. Fiat has been slowly putting a distance between itself and its Turin, Italy, roots – with the city being linked to cars just as the Dutch town is to bicycles. Last year, Fiat SpA and its subsidiary Chrysler Group LLC unified to form global powerhouse Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. Registered in the Netherlands and with the international headquarters in London, the world’s seventh-largest automaker could be one of the perfect examples of the globalization of the automotive industry. Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is now further stepping up the unsettlement strategy by also considering taking Ferrari down the “perdition” road – shifting its legal domicile to the Netherlands in a bid to quickly list the ultra-luxury division on the New York Stock Exchange in the US. Shifting the Fiat annual shareholder meeting from Italy is “a big issue,” commented Marchionne recently. “I understand it, and I think a lot of the tradition that was associated with the Turin meeting is going to get lost.”
This is just another step in the company’s new business strategy: it’s legally registered in the Netherlands since 2014, has its base in London because of tax purposes and a main share listing in the US. Marchionne wants to make it loud and clear: the new entity is not an Italian carmaker, it’s among the first of a new breed of truly global automakers.