Following a triangular pitch, the Italian arm of WPP's Mediaedge:cia has snatched a joint venture deal with ailing Italian automaker Fiat.

Under the terms of the unusual agreement, WPP Group will take a 49% stake in the car firm's inhouse operation, the Fiat Media Centre. Initially, the deal covers only domestic Italian media, for which the annual budget is around €180 million ($234.61m; £122.42m). However, it is reasonable to assume the compact may extend to other markets if successful.

According to insiders, the fledgling partnership will adopt a new brand name and the changes reflected by a boardroom reshuffle.

There is also speculation that the deal may herald a move by WPP ceo Sir Martin Sorrell, to spread the risk of over-dependence on the Ford business - especially in the light of Jaguar's recent defection to Euro RSCG [WAMN: 18-Apr-05].

Fiat's incumbent media shop in all markets outside Italy is Publicis Groupe's Starcom Mediavest - curiously not a contender in the domestic partnership pitch, for which the unsuccessful contestants were local business Media Italian and Aegis Group's Carat.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff