Sergio Marchionne, the former CEO of Fiat Chrysler and the man who transformed the company over 14 years, has died at the age of 66. He died just days after Marchionne was replaced as CEO.
John Elkann, heir of the Agnelli family, said on Wednesday:
Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone.
I believe that the best way to honour his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion.
My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done. Our thoughts are with Manuela, and his sons Alessio and Tyler. I would ask again everyone to respect the privacy of Sergio’s family.
Marchionne fell gravely ill after suffering complications following recent surgery in a Zurich hospital. He was replaced as chief executive last weekend after Fiat Chrysler said his condition had worsened following complications from shoulder surgery.
Marchionne had planned to leave Fiat in 2019, but with his health deteriorating, on July 21 he was replaced as CEO of Fiat Chrysler by Mike Manley, head of the Jeep and Ram brands. Louis C. Camilleri took over at Ferrari, and Suzanne Heywood succeeded Marchionne as chairman of truck and farm-equipment maker CNH Industrial NV.
A chartered accountant and attorney with dual Canadian and Italian citizenship, Marchionne began his career in Canada at Deloitte & Touche, then moved on to packaging producer Lawson Group. In 1994, Marchionne joined Alusuisse Lonza Group Ltd. after the Swiss chemical and pharmaceutical company acquired Lawson, Bloomberg reports.
Three years later, as Alusuisse CEO, he spun off the drug business to create Lonza Group AG, where he tripled profit in three years. He later consolidated his reputation as a turnaround specialist at SGS SA, a Geneva-based product-testing company at the time controlled by the Agnelli family.
Marchionne and his estranged wife, Orlandina, had two children, Alessio and Jonathan. His current partner, Manuela Battezzato, works in Fiat Chrysler’s press office.
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Below are excerpts from his prepared obituary, via the FT:
The 66-year-old, who died from complications following surgery, was a consummate dealmaker, known for his nonstop work habit and razor sharp mind.
A poker player, his entourage told of sleepless transatlantic flights where their chain-smoking boss always wanted to play — and win — another hand of cards.
The same passion defined his improbable rescue of Fiat via an audacious merger with Chrysler that saved both companies and created the world’s seventh largest car group.
He persuaded General Motors to pay $2bn to escape its alliance with a near bankrupt Fiat in 2005 before swooping on a distressed Chrysler in 2009 and executing a full takeover of the group in 2014.
He never lost his hunger for the next...