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TURIN, Italy (AP) _ Troubled industrial group Fiat SpA said Thursday it has appointed company veteran Gabriele Galateri di Genola as co-chief executive to serve with co-CEO Paolo Fresco, who remains as chairman of Italy's largest private company.

The decision was made about two weeks after Paolo Cantarella stepped down as CEO amid rumors that creditor banks and other investors were demanding a management shake-up. Fresco took over the interim position as CEO.

Fiat, known primarily as an auto company, also named Alessandro Barberis, chairman of Italian scooter manufacturer Piaggio SpA, as director general. He'll assist Galateri in managing the company's manufacturing operations.

Galateri, 55, an aide to Fiat vice chairman Umberto Agnelli, is currently the managing director of IFI SpA and IFIL SpA, the two Agnelli family holding companies which control Fiat.

He joined the Turin-based group in 1977 as a manager in the finance division. Six years later he was made financial director.

Galateri is seen by industry watchers as an executive who could steer the struggling conglomerate away from its core auto business by selling the loss-making Fiat Auto operation.

Analysts said Galateri's solid financial background, as well as Fresco's decision to stay on, will help support Fiat's credit standing.

Fiat has net debt of $6 billion, and has pledged to sell non-core assets as part of a restructuring plan agreed upon with its main creditor banks.