Former FCA Group chairman has died after complications following shoulder surgery

Sergio Marchionne, the former head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), has died.

Marchionne, 66, suffered complications from a recent shoulder surgery at a hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, and was replaced as CEO last weekend when his ill health prevented him from continuing in a leadership role.

“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” confirmed FCA chairman John Elkann, of the controlling Agnelli family, in a statement. 

Marchionne joined the board of then-struggling Fiat in 2003 with no car industry experience but a reputation for turning around loss-making firms. He became CEO the following year following chairman Umberto Agnelli’s death. Agnelli was replaced by Ferrari chief Luca de Montezemelo, prompting Fiat CEO Giuseppe Morchio – who had expected the chairman job – to quit.

In 2009, Marchionne capitalised on a major opportunity to grow Fiat by acquiring a stake in Chrysler, which was in dire straits following a disastrous alliance with Daimler and the 2008 financial crisis. Fiat took a 20% stake in Chrysler in 2009, which Marchionne increased to 58.5% in 2012. Two years later Fiat bought out the remaining shares, leading to the creation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The deal gave FCA greater access to the North American market, and the scale to compete against global rivals.

At the same time, Marchionne spun off Ferrari into an independent division, although he remained in charge of the sports car firm. He had intended to continue in that role for another five years, meaning his sudden departure could have more short-term impact on the firm.

Unlike FCA, Marchionne was still developing Ferrari’s future product plan, which will include the brand’s first SUV. The firm had an investor day planned for September, where it is due to give more details on its long-term plans.

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Louis Camilleri, 63, has been appointed the new CEO of Ferrari. He already sits on the Ferrari board and was the chairman of tobacco firm Philip Morris – a long-time sponsor of Ferrari’s F1 team. John Elkann, the grandson of Gianni Agnelli and the boss of the family’s Exor investment firm, has been named the new chairman. Elkann was a key figure in appointing Marchionne as Fiat CEO.

Under Marchionne’s leadership, FCA has focused on its premium brands, in recent years growing Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati through the development of new SUVs and other models. But Fiat itself has struggled, and in Europe the storied brand will soon focus on electrified city cars.

Marchionne was known for his outspoken and opinionated management style, including openly talking about finding another car firm to merge with. Marchionne’s final public act as the boss of FCA came at the start of June, when he unveiled the firm’s next five-year plan, including further expansion of the Jeep, Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, and heavy investment in electrified technology.

At that event, Marchionne responded to financial analysts who questioned why he had developed a plan he wouldn’t stick around to oversee. Describing FCA leaders as “survivors” who had faced losing their jobs before the Fiat Chrysler merger, Marchionne said his legacy would be the culture he instilled in the group.

Noting much of the car industry was focused on method and process, Marchionne said that, while such things were important, “at FCA we are, and always will be, about the music.” Asked whether he’d left a ‘script’ for his successor, he added: “There is no script or instructions. Instructions are institutional and temporary. FCA is a culture of leaders and employees that were born out of adversity and who operate without sheet music.”

Marchionne was due to step down as FCA CEO next year, but was this weekend succeeded by the head of Jeep, Mike Manley. 

Under Manley’s leadership, Jeep has massively expanded in recent years, pushing into new markets and launching new models. Sales have grown from around 320,000 in 2009 to an expected 1.9-million this year.

While FCA has already presented its next five-year plan – which Manley would have been a key figure in developing – he faces challenges implementing it. The first priority will be settling the FCA Group following Marchionne’s departure: Jeep’s European boss, Alfredo Altavilla, a contender to replace Marchionne, has already resigned.

Read more

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Comments
12

289

25 July 2018

The word in Italy is that Marchionne died of cancer, not from complications with a shoulder operation.

It may not be linked, but he used to be a smoker.

25 July 2018
289 wrote:

The word in Italy is that Marchionne died of cancer, not from complications with a shoulder operation.

It may not be linked, but he used to be a smoker.

That seems indeed to be the case, according to his good friend and former boss Franzo Grande Stevens in an interview with Corriere della Sera. The Agnelli family, FCA management and Marchionne family have tried to be discreet about the disease. He died of lung cancer.

25 July 2018
Why a cover story? Who cares what he died of .... rip the man who finally out Alfa Romeo back on the right path.

25 July 2018

Possibly because of Ferrari's sponsor, cigarette & tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris.

25 July 2018
pa1nkiller wrote:

Possibly because of Ferrari's sponsor, cigarette & tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris.

Ah!!

289

25 July 2018

....so why come up with a ridiculous and unbelievable story in the first place? Its bizarre behaviour!  Just anounce his death and leave out details. I dont care what he died of...its not my (or anyone elses) business

True, it is a sad day, but compounded by very strange press releases. Is there a social stigma around dying from Lung Cancer?

25 July 2018
Cheltenhamshire wrote:

Why a cover story? Who cares what he died of .... rip the man who finally out Alfa Romeo back on the right path.

Agreed.

25 July 2018

Sad - buying Chrysler and making FIAT debt free after years were amazing acheivements.

He did/didnt do a fair few things I didnt like too, but its not appropriate to discuss any of them here/now.

RIP Marchinone.

XXXX just went POP.

25 July 2018

Never much liked the guy and never agreed with his plan to merge FCA with another large automaker.

That said, RIP Sergio Marchionne.

And good job making the company profitable again!

27 July 2018

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