Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO and Ferrari Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne has succumbed to the complications that arose following recent shoulder surgery at a hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. He was 66.
His passing was confirmed Wednesday by John Elkann, grandson of Gianni Agnelli and chairman of EXOR, the investment company that controls FCA.
“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” Elkann said in a statement. "My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done.”
Marchionne was expected to step down from his role as CEO of FCA next year, although he was expected to stay on as chairman of Ferrari. But after it was discovered last week that he wouldn't be able to return to work, reportedly due to a brain embolism during surgery, FCA announced that Mike Manley, who at the time headed the Jeep and Ram brands, would take over as CEO. Elkann stepped in to serve as chairman of Ferrari while Louis C. Camilleri stepped in as CEO of the Italian firm.
Sergio Marchionne (left) and John Elkann
Elkann originally hired Marchionne in 2003 to serve as a boardmember and then CEO of Fiat, which at the time had just lost $7 billion. Just two years later Marchionne had returned the company to a profit by wringing some $2 billion from an alliance with General Motors and drastically cutting costs. His biggest move, however, was merging Fiat with Chrysler in 2009 and taking over as CEO of the new behemoth.
As CEO, Marchionne has led FCA through multiple plans for profitability, which the automaker has largely delivered on, and spun off Ferrari as a successful standalone business unit. Last month, FCA paid off its net industrial debt, which was part of a larger plan to spend billions on new cars and technologies by 2022. Revealed earlier this year, the new five-year plan for the automaker calls for several new models and a major push into self-driving and electrification technologies.
Marchionne was born on June 17, 1952, in the small Italian town of Chieti. His father was a local policeman, and when Marchionne was 14 the family moved to Toronto where they had relatives. Machionne became a chartered accountant and attorney and began his career at Deloitte & Touche, then moved on to packaging producer Lawson Group. In 1994, the company was merged with Swiss industrial firm Alusuisse Lonza Group, at which point Marchionne moved to Switzerland. He would stay there until being called upon in 2003 by Elkann to join Fiat.
Marchionne is survived by his partner Manuela and sons Alessio and Jonathan.