According to The Detroit News, Guenter Verheugen, the European Union's Industry Commissioner, lashed out at Fiat on Friday in a radio interview, voicing concerns that the Italian automaker is acting irresponsibly to be considering new mergers and acquisitions when the company is already in debt. The public tongue-lashing from the EU official sent Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne to the microphones to defend his position, asserting that the commissioner's "comments are not helpful to the ultimate goal of re-establishing a sound footing on which to build the future of this industry".

Although Fiat lost half a billion dollars in the first quarter of this year and holds a debt of some $8.6 billion, sources suggest that the pending deal with Chrysler would have Fiat providing technology and expertise but no cash in exchange for a 20% stake in the troubled American automaker. Meanwhile, although Fiat Group chairman Luca di Montezemolo denied the company was pursuing any interest in GM's European subsidiary Opel, Marchionne is now asserting that would consider the possibility, but that no offer had been made to date.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty]