Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

Ex-Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne dies, aged 66

Ex-Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne dies, aged 66

ANSA reported Wednesday that Marchionne suffered cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery to his right shoulder in a Zurich hospital, which landed him in intensive care, where he later suffered a second, fatal cardiac arrest. The company wasn't specific about the cause of his death.

Marchionne turned the company around, even making Fiat's 2009 acquisition of Detroit carmaker Chrysler a success, debuting the joint Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in October 2014.

Marchionne's ill-health was thrust into the spotlight last Saturday when it was announced he would be unable to return to work as a result of complications following surgery. In 2009 he was picked by the US government to save Chrysler from its trip through bankruptcy protection after being owned by a private equity company.

The gruff chief executive spent 14 years at the wheel of Fiat Chrysler, the group he built. "He deserves a bronze statue". The company said on July 21 that Manley would take over after Marchionne's condition took a sudden turn for the worse. At Ferrari, John Elkann, son of Fiat's controlling Agnelli family, was named chairman of Ferrari, and Louis Carey Camilieri, a tobacco executive and Ferrari board member, was named chief executive.

Marchionne was known for his folksy, colorful expressions and for his dark cashmere sweaters, which he was rarely seen without. "When you're pissed off, there's nothing better than this", he said, stomping on the accelerator of his black Enzo at the company's test track in 2014 and pushing the vehicle from a comfortable 120 miles per hour to something over 200. He also knew speed can be risky. "When you're pissed off, there's nothing better than this", he said. Nonetheless, although he was castigated by Beppe Grillo of Italy's Five Star political movement for cutting jobs and closing factories, Marchionne was not indifferent to the plight of workers.

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Tributes are pouring in from automotive leaders about Sergio Marchionne's skill, creativity and determination in saving Chrysler and Fiat from near-certain financial ruin.

He gave up the quest when his preferred target, General Motors Co, rejected his advances and focused on fixing FCA's finances first, notably erasing all net debt, which he achieved in the quarter to June.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sergio Marchionne", he added.

Sergio Marchionne, a charismatic and demanding leader who engineered two long-shot corporate turnarounds to save both Fiat and Chrysler from near-certain failure, died Wednesday.

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