We’ve just learned that Sergio Marchionne – the former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – has died at the age of 66, after reportedly suffering a cerebral embolism while undergoing surgery on his right shoulder and ending up in a coma. He was set to retire next year, but confronted with his failing health, FCA’s board quickly made the decision last weekend to accelerate the transition to a new CEO: former Jeep and Ram brand chief Mike Manley.
John Elkann, grandson of the late Gianni Agnelli and Chairman of the holding company Exor, confirmed Marchionne’s passing in a statement, saying: “Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone. My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done.”
Marchionne served as CEO of Fiat Auto since 2004, assuming that role at Chrysler in 2009 after the American automaker underwent bankruptcy and Fiat subsequently purchased a 20-percent ownership stake. The two companies officially merged in 2014, with Marchionne at the helm. Under his leadership, Fiat Chrysler spun off Italian sportscar maker Ferrari and industrial equipment manufacturer CNH Industrial into successful independent businesses, making plans to do the same with its parts business, Magneti Marelli.
Sergio Marchionne’s biggest driving goal of the last few years – eliminating FCA’s industrial debt – was accomplished last month.
After his planned retirement from the role of CEO at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Marchionne was slated to remain Chairman of Ferrari – a task that’s now fallen to John Elkann. The Canadian-Italian executive had also been CEO of Ferrari, but those duties have now been passed to former Philip Morris Chairman and CEO Louis Camilleri.
Sergio Marchionne is survived by his partner, Manuela, and two sons: Alessio and Jonathan.