Sergio Marchionne, the besweatered and sometimes controversial head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, will not return to the helms of FCA, CNH Industrial, and Ferrari after suffering serious complications following shoulder surgery. The boards of the companies met today to name successors, with FCA having already confirmed Marchionne’s replacement.
Mike Manley, a company veteran whose tenure dates to the DaimlerChrysler period and who has led Jeep since 2009 and Ram since 2015, has been named CEO of FCA. In a press release, FCA announced, “in order to provide for his full authority and operational continuity for the company, the Board has with immediate effect granted Mr. Manley all the powers of CEO. He will also assume responsibility for the NAFTA region.” The board also recommended one of its own members, Louis Camilleri, to step into the CEO role at Ferrari, with Agnelli family heir John Elkann being named as chairman.
Marchionne has run Fiat for 14 years, and in that time turned the struggling Italian automaker around and hitched its fortunes to then-bankrupt Chrysler, itself fresh off the disastrous marriage to Daimler and a rough stint at the hands of private equity behemoth Cerberus. FCA’s success has been anchored by Ram and Jeep, although the company has been less successful in the United States with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Chrysler. Marchionne’s FCA managed to keep Dodge afloat by positioning it as a uniquely American performance brand.
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For all the product initiatives led by Marchionne, he’s perhaps equally renowned for aggressively touting the need for a further automotive merger, even while spinning off both Ferrari and CNH. His courtship of Mary Barra’s General Motors in 2015 made waves in the press, but his idea for a partnership ultimately went nowhere due to lack of interest at GM. Most recently, Hyundai has been mooted as a potential candidate, although Fiat Chrysler denied any talks were taking place.
Marchionne had stated his intention to retire in 2019, but his exit a full year earlier and the tone of various statements released by FCA indicate that the former CEO’s health may be in steep decline.
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