Former Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne passes away aged 66

Virginia Carson
July 26, 2018

Sergio Marchionne, the man responsible for turning around the fortunes of the FCA (Fiat Chrysler) Group, has died aged 66. He was replaced as CEO last weekend after Fiat Chrysler said his condition had worsened. German auto expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer described Fiat Chrysler as "a weak company, and now with Marchionne's departure, it has become even weaker".

Marchionne was placed in intensive care at a hospital in Switzerland late last week after suffering complications from shoulder surgery. Longtime interior designer at FCA, Klaus Busse, tweeted Wednesday that design reviews with Marchionne "weren't easy".

Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley has paid tribute to Sergio Marchionne, saying news of his death is "heartbreaking".

Elkann's office declined to comment.

This description diverges from what Marchionne himself told investors on June 1 during a day-long strategy presentation in Balocco, Italy.

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Some experts have cast doubt on the ability of Marchionne's successors to maintain the momentum he had built up over the years.

"Those of us watching have received an education in management, finance, politics, oratory and what's possible via sheer force of will", Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said.

"The biggest challenges we face and frankly we're going to continue to face. are all focused in China", Manley said.

He carried out two successful spin-offs from the merged group - first its tractor-making arm in 2011, which became CNH Industrial, then Ferrari, which was floated in 2016. Nonetheless, although he was castigated by Beppe Grillo of Italy's Five Star political movement for cutting jobs and closing factories, Marchionne was not indifferent to the plight of workers.

"For Altavilla it was too important - he wants to be CEO at least once in his career", one of the sources said.

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CNH Industrial declined 2.9 percent, while Exor, the holding company of Fiat's founding Agnelli family, was down 4 percent. He's been heading the Jeep brand since 2009 and has also been running RAM and FCA in the Asia Pacific region.

The Italian-Canadian executive took the reins at Fiat in 2004.

Sources told Lettera43, which has led coverage of Marchionne's illness, that during the operation, Marchionne was struck by a cerebral embolism, plunging him into a coma. His partner, Manuela Battezzato, works in Fiat Chrysler's press office.

In 2009, he merged Fiat with United States automaker Chrysler, then hived off its industrial vehicles unit in 2011 to create CNH Industrial and successfully spun off the luxury brand Ferrari in January 2016. "At this hard time, we would like to express our sympathies to the Marchionne family, to our colleagues at Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari and CNH International". That ultimate deal eluded him.

The Cgil union, Italy's most powerful, praised Marchionne for having "saved a dying company".

Manley had to address some of the issues he's inherited, including second quarter profits down 35%.

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