Executive saved Fiat Chrysler
SERGIO Marchionne, the executive who pulled two ailing carmakers from the brink of collapse and led the improbable transformation of Fiat Chrysler into a car giant, died in Zurich on Wednesday. He was 66.
Marchionne had been incapacitated about three weeks ago by sudden complications of shoulder surgery in Zurich. He was reportedly later put on life support.
“Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” said John Elkann, the chairperson of Exor, the holding company controlled by the Agnelli family, which founded Fiat in 1899.
Marchionne took over Fiat, in Turin, in 2004 and spearheaded the acquisition of Chrysler in 2009.
On both occasions the businesses were near low ebbs and few gave him any chance of success. But he defied those gloomy predictions. Today Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari, which was spun off during Marchionne’s tenure, are worth nearly 10 times as much as they were when he took over.
An Italian-born Canadian, Marchionne had a reputation as a chain-smoking workaholic, one who forged his career as a tax consultant before moving on to a metalstrading firm and a trade services company.
His legacy was defined, however, by his work in the car industry. When he was hired by the Agnelli family to run the company, they tasked him with reversing its long decline.
Before long Marchionne became closely watched as one of the fastestmoving executives in the auto industry.
A confidant of his, Mike Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, a large car dealership chain, said Marchionne had an unusually analytical mind.
“He could take a fire hose of complexity and reduce it to its fundamentals in minutes,” Jackson said. “He had the courage to make very aggressive decisions and, if it went badly, he’d be totally accountable for it.”
He had planned to retire next year before becoming critically ill as a result of his shoulder surgery on July 5.
The company has chosen Mike Manley, the head of Fiat Chrysler’s north America operations, to succeed him. – The New York Times
Sergio Marchionne, former chief executive of Fiat Chrysler.