Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne had been receiving treatment from a Swiss hospital for more than a year prior to his passing, Reuters reports, while “due to medical privacy, the company had no knowledge of the facts relating to Mr. Marchionne’s health,” an FCA spokesperson says. Due to the apparent suddenness of the late auto exec’s death, FCA has faced questions relating to how much they knew – and when – before this past Wednesday, when FCA Chairman John Elkann issued a statement confirming that Marchionne had passed away at age 66.
“The company was made aware that Mr. Marchionne had undergone shoulder surgery and released a statement about this,” the FCA spokesperson said. “On Friday, July 20, the Company was made aware with no detail by Mr. Marchionne’s family of the serious deterioration in Mr. Marchionne’s condition and that as a result he would be unable to return to work. The Company promptly took and announced the appropriate action the following day,” installing former Jeep/Ram brand head Mike Manley as CEO, they said.
Sergio Marchionne, who was set to retire as CEO of FCA and Ferrari this coming April, served as chief executive for 14 years at Fiat and 9 years at Chrysler, overseeing the two companies’ official merger in 2014. According to Reuters, he multiplied Fiat’s value eleven times while at the helm, and it’s fair to say that his leadership saved both the Italian Fiat and the American Chrysler carmakers from financial ruin. Scores of colleagues, rivals, and acquaintances from multiple industries shared their sorrow and admiration upon learning of Marchionne’s passing.
“Due to serious illness, [Sergio Marchionne] had been the recipient of recurring treatment for more than a year,” University Hospital Zürich confirmed in a statement. According to reports, the CEO was suffering from a sarcoma in his right shoulder, and he experienced a cerebral embolism while undergoing surgery late in June, rendering him comatose.
“Although all the options offered by cutting-edge medicine were utilized, Mr. Marchionne unfortunately passed away,” the hospital said, expressing deep regret for the loss and condolences to Marchionne’s family.