Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] has named current Chairman Sergio Marchionne as its new CEO.
Marchionne takes over from Amedeo Felisa, who is retiring after 26 years at the company and eight years in the top role. The 69-year-old will still play a role in guiding Ferrari, however, as he is to continue to serve on the board of directors with a specific mandate as technical advisor.
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Marchionne, 63, is also CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU], showing just how close the bond between the two companies remains despite Ferrari’s IPO last year. Recall, most of the shares in Ferrari ended up with majority FCA shareholder Exor, the investment firm controlled by Italy’s Agnelli family. In addition, two Agnellis, FCA Chairman John Elkann and the rather eccentric Lapo Elkann, also serve on Ferrari’s board.
Under Marchionne’s leadership, Ferrari is expected to increase the number of cars it produces each year.
More cars, more brand licensing deals
The current target is 9,000 deliveries by 2019 but Marchionne has hinted at taking this higher. Ferrari sold 1,882 cars in the first quarter of 2015, which was up 15 percent for the same period one year ago.
Ferrari also plans to expand its brand licensing deals. This is part of an overarching strategy to reposition Ferrari as one of the world’s leading luxury brands. One of those brand licensing deals could lead to a Ferrari theme park in the United States.
As part of the repositioning of the brand, Ferrari shareholders have appointed luxury industry executives Delphine Arnault and Adam Keswick to the board of directors. Arnault is an executive vice president at LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Keswick is a senior manager at the parent company of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.
Hopefully once the dust settles on this major transition phase which has spanned almost two years already, Ferrari will be able to fully focus on its cars and motorsports programs. Most tests have shown the LaFerrari flagship to be slower than rivals from Porsche and McLaren. And the Formula One team hasn’t had a world champion driver since Kimi Räikkönen narrowly took home the title in 2007.