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Words in the News
 
Friday 24 January 2003
 
Giovanni Agnelli dies
 
Giovanni Agnelli Giovanni Agnelli, the patriarch of Italy's motor industry, died at his home in Turin early today at the age of 81. He turned his family car company, founded just over a century ago, into a global conglomerate. This report from David Willey:
 
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Gianni Agnelli, one of Europe's leading industrialists in the 20th century, was no longer in total control of Fiat, having become honorary chairman on his retirement. But he will be remembered as the man who led Italy's industrial renaissance after the damage inflicted on the country during the Second World War. He'd been suffering from prostate cancer and had recently undergone treatment in the United States. Known in his youth as an international playboy, Gianni Agnelli successfully directed the fortunes of his family company during several decades and ensured its prosperity by getting successive Italian governments to develop road instead of rail transport. The result is that Italy today is one of the most traffic congested countries in Europe, with six out of every ten inhabitants owning a car. Fiat is now in dire financial straits, having suffered big losses in its car-making division which is now partly owned by General Motors of America. It reported losses as high as two billion dollars in 2002. But the company remains Italy's largest private sector employer. It has recently been forced to lay off over eight thousand workers to reduce costs.

David Willey, BBC, Rome

 
 
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leading industrialists
 
the most important people who own or controls large amounts of money or property in industry
 
on his retirement
 
when he stopped working
 
industrial renaissance
 
the rebirth of industry
 
ensured its prosperity
 
made certain it would be rich
 
develop road instead of rail transport
 
improved and increased the number of roads rather than railway lines
 
traffic congested
 
blocked with cars and lorries
 
in dire financial straits
 
suffering major financial problems
 
car-making division
 
the department or section of the firm that produces cars
 
private sector
 
the part of the economy financed by private capital
 
forced to lay off
 
had to sack
 
 
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