Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, dies
Sergio Marchionne, 66 years old and CEO of Fiat since 2004 and subsequently Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), passed away on 25 July. In a statement, John Elkann, the chairman of Exor, major shareholder in FCA, said, "Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone. I believe that the best way to honor his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion. My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done. Our thoughts are with Manuela, and his sons Alessio and Tyler. I would ask again everyone to respect the privacy of Sergio's family." Marchionne is credited with bringing Fiat back from disaster in 2004 and then creating FCA group following the bankruptcy of the Chrysler Group.
Significance: The news was foreshadowed by the emergency appointment of Mike Manley as new CEO of FCA group, as well as the appointment of new executives at Ferrari and CNH Industria. However, the news has been met with a sense of loss throughout the automotive industry to which Marchionne devoted his working life, by friends and rivals alike. While not unheard of, it is extremely rare for a sitting CEO to be removed over health issues, and the only time for a top five automaker in modern history. However, as FCA had already begun planning for his retirement in April 2019 and for a successor, the succession is likely to be less chaotic than it otherwise would be. Plans for Marchionne's retirement included having the current executive leadership team directly involved in the recently announced five-year plan. As a result, new CEO Mike Manley has a path forward that he had a hand in creating. In the near term, the five-year plan provides the company with a focus in the aftermath of the loss of a key executive. While execution of the 2018-22 plan was always going to be Marchionne's successor's responsibility, the company expected to have his depth of knowledge, insight, and force of will for a while longer. Statements of condolence, respect, and admiration came from many other automakers and suppliers as the news of Marchionne's passing became known.
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