The twists and turns at Olivetti management took on near-Medici proportions last week as Carlo De Benedetti reappeared, while freshly spawned chief executive Francesco Caio got the silver bullet.
But the comings and goings at the troubled Italian giant has shaken confidence in the UK channel, so carefully set up during the course of the year.
One of the many UK distributors appointed said: 'This shakes confidence in Olivetti. I strongly predict departures on the distributor front. I can't see the PC company lasting or Olivetti lasting in its present form.'
He said distributors were concerned because Olivetti was launching new products and discounting them almost immediately. Both dealers and distributors were exposed, he claimed, because if the PC division was sold, it would leave them with outstanding warranties.
The future of the PC division at Olivetti and the odds whether it will continue have changed almost as often as its chief executives, although Paul Mahoney, MD at Olivetti UK, has repeatedly insisted it will survive.
Debts in the first half loss, he said, did not accrue to that division.
He said: 'We had a roadshow last week and our distributors and dealers accepted that our investment showed no signs of the PC company going bust.'
Caio quit at an emergency board meeting, after holding the reins for only three months. He was replaced by Roberto Colaninno, MD of Sogefi - a car components company in which De Benedetti's family company Cir owns a 57 per cent share.
Coloninno will head a board which will include Rodolfo De Benedetti, Carlo's son, and Antonio Tesone, a chief legal adviser to Carlo. Olivetti Inc issued a statement which said that Caio had resigned over the powers of the new executive committee.
The news caused a roller-coaster ride in the Italian stock market, with prices rising on news that Caio was toppled.
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