It has just come to pass that former CEO of carmaker Fiat-Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, has died in hospital in Zurich aged 66. Four days ago, he was replaced by Mike Manley as chief executive officer. The Italian’s health worsened following complications from surgery on his right shoulder.
He helmed the combined company for more than a decade and had even planned to step down in 2019.
Briton, Mike Manley was the head of the Italian-American firm’s Jeep division.
“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” said John Elkann, a member of the Agnelli family and group chairman. The family holds a large stake in the company and controls it.
Elkann was an admirer of Marchionne’s values of humanity, responsibility and open-mindedness.
He added: “I and my family will always be grateful for what he did.”
The Italian was also chairman of the Ferrari group and was considered the driving force behind Fiat-Chrysler’s growth.
He joined Fiat in 2004 following the passing of patriarch Gianni Agnelli. Marchionne was well-known for his signature black jumpers, sharp tongue and workaholic lifestyle. Many have credited him as the saviour of both Fiat and Chrysler from bankruptcy.
Marchionne was often present at a number of F1 races where he oversaw the team’s progress. The 66-year-old had recently negotiated a budget cap with FIA president Jean Todt and F1 executive, Chase Carey.
Earlier, he had stated his intention of staying on as Ferrari Chairman and CEO until 2021. It will certainly be a dark day for the Scuderia Ferrari team as he was a respected figure. But, the show must go on, as they say and the two drivers will surely be motivated to work hard and honour Marchionne’s memory.
The man will sorely be missed in the F1 paddock particularly in the Ferrari team.