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MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Carmaker Fiat SpA said Sunday its board had approved a plan to turn the group's energy assets over to a new company that may buy a large stake in Italian energy conglomerate Montedison SpA.

The move is expected to enable Fiat and Electricite de France, Montedison's largest shareholder with 20 percent, to launch a takeover bid Monday for the agro-industrial firm, people familiar with the deal say.

The sources said the bid would be launched through an Italian-registered takeover vehicle.

The deal is expected to help EdF ease its way into the Italian energy market by using a strong domestic partner to dispel its image as a foreign invader. It would also provide Fiat with a means of diversification as it is widely expected to eventually sell its core automotive business.

A Fiat spokesman said further details of the plan would be released Monday.