Cova leaves Fiat as new CEO brings in favourite

Fiat’s general counsel Bruno Cova is leaving the Italian icon and will be replaced by Luciano Soldi of Pirelli.

As first revealed on www.thelawyer.com (2 December) Cova, a hugely respected figure in the legal market, is leaving by mutual consent, as Fiat’s new chief executive Giuseppe Morchio chooses his own senior team.

Morchio was chief executive officer at Pirelli Cables, where Soldi was general counsel before becoming general counsel of the Pirelli group. Soldi takes charge of a 150-strong worldwide legal team.

Cova leaves after almost three years with Fiat, during which time the group has gone through a massive restructuring. Fiat sold 34 per cent of Ferrari to Italian merchant bank Mediobanca; it disposed of its aluminium business; it sold 51 per cent of Fidis, a consumer finance company; it has just sold its insurance arm for E2.4bn (£1.68bn); and its aviation business was sold for E1.5bn (£1.05bn).

In addition to the disposals, Cova and his team worked on a series of financial transactions. A capital increase in January 2002 was followed by another in July 2003 of E1.84bn (£1.29bn). There has been an exchangeable bond issued on Fiat’s shares in General Motors, a convertible bond and the securitisation of Italenergia shares.

It is understood that Cova is considering his career options and is most likely to pursue a role in private practice.

Soldi has been replaced at Pirelli Cables by Oscar Boschetti, who has been promoted from his position as general counsel of Pirelli Tyres.

Bruno Cova
“Since Bruno Cova joined Fiat in March 2001, he has worked with four chief executive officers, two chairmen, two vice-chairmen and three chief financial officers. This survival in the role is not far short of a miracle and is an indicator of the esteem in which he is held.

After Fiat, which represents 4.5 per cent of Italy’s GDP, there are few in-house positions that could offer such a challenge. A move into private practice is expected and Cova will be a catch for the firm he chooses.

With so many international firms struggling to make their Italian practices work or even gain a foothold, he will not be short of suitors. Cova’s international exposure, managerial experience, political acumen and stature in the marketplace could prove hugely advantageous to any firm needing guidance.