On July 21st, Egypt-born businessman Louis Camilleri was named Chief Executive Officer of Italian sportscar-maker Ferrari, after former CEO Sergio Marchionne was rendered comatose by complications following a surgical procedure in Switzerland. His new job represents a significant departure from his prior work experience, which includes stints at the helm of two tobacco companies: Altria, and Philip Morris International.
Yet despite his limited prior experience within the automotive industry, Camilleri’s career has paralleled that of the late Sergio Marchionne in a number of ways. While CEO of Altria Group in 2007, the 63-year-old executive spun off that company’s massive, 88% stake in Kraft Foods Inc., much as Marchionne did with the spin off of Ferrari from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2015. The following year, he spun off Altria subsidiary Philip Morris International, and became CEO of the newly-independent company, which operates worldwide with the exclusion of the United States.
PMI has long been a sponsor of Scuderia Ferrari, and Camilleri a regular attendee of the Italian marque’s F1 races. The new Ferrari CEO has also sat on the board at Ferrari since 2015, and is said to possess a personal collection of sportscars from the Italian company.
Ultimately, it’s the job that Louis Camilleri did as Chief Executive Officer of PMI that signals he could be effective at the helm of Ferrari, according to Automotive News Europe. The adverse health effects of tobacco now well known around the world, Camilleri helped steer PMI toward less-risky cigarette alternatives like IQOS (“I Quit Original Smoking”) – a device that heats tobacco to release nicotine and other cigarette smoke byproducts rather than burning it.
The product differs from so-called “electronic cigarettes”, or “e-cigs”.
Now, PMI is a leader in “Heat-Not-Burn” tobacco products, exhibiting not only the CEO’s foresight, but his ability to guide the launch and marketing of new products. Those skills might come in handy as Ferrari goes about introducing its first-ever crossover utility vehicle, rolling out more electrified models, and hopefully doubling its core earnings to roughly $2.3 billion by 2022.