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ROME — Cesare Romiti, an industrialist and champion of Italian capitalism who steered automaker Fiat through years of strikes and domestic terrorism in the 1970s and 1980s, died in Rome on Tuesday, Italian state TV said. He was 97.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella hailed Mr. Romiti as an “important protagonist of a demanding and controversial season of industrial relations and Italian capitalism.”

For many years, Mr. Romiti served as right-hand aide to Giovanni Agnelli, the jet-setting chieftain of the family dynasty that had founded the automaker in 1900 and would develop it into the nation’s largest private employer.

In 1974, during the global oil crisis that rocked the automobile industry, Romiti joined Fiat, going on to become chief executive and eventually chairman.

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Just after becoming chief executive in 1980, he helped break a weeks-long strike by factory workers.

Mr. Romiti was born in Rome on June 24, 1923, the son of an Italian postal worker who was fired because he opposed Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime.