Former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, has passed away at the age of 66. The man behind the complete turn arounds of both the FIAT and Chrysler companies, before merging the two companies and creating the seventh largest automaker in the world.
In a statement this morning, FCA released a very brief statement that Marchionne had passed away.
It is with the deepest sadness that EXOR has learned of the passing of Sergio Marchionne.
John Elkann said: “Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone.
“I believe that the best way to honor 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.”
Lettera43, in a report Tuesday citing anonymous sources, said Marchionne had been diagnosed “long ago” with the invasive shoulder sarcoma — a malignant form of cancer that can develop in the body’s soft tissue — and “expressed some doubts” about the effectiveness of the high-risk operation he underwent at the University of Zurich in late June.
Sources told Lettera43, which has led coverage of Marchionne’s illness, that during the operation, Marchionne was struck by a cerebral embolism, plunging him into a coma. It also claims that Marchionne is now being kept alive only by machines, and that doctors said there was no hope of recovery according to Autoweek.
Like him or hate him, Marchionne leaves behind an amazing automotive legacy.
Marchionne was born June 17, 1952 in Chieti, Italy and lived there until the age of 13 when his parents brought the family to Toronto. With Italian and Canadian dual-citizenship he graduated from the University of Toronto. He later attended the University of Windsor where he obtained a masters of business administration. Soon after he went on to get his CPA and then attended law school.
From there Marchionne rose quickly as a CPA, then CFO and chief legal counsel for a number of Canadian industrial companies.Then he moved to Switzerland where he assumed the CEO job of major chemical companies.
In 2003, Marchionne took a seat on the FIAT board of directors which kicked off his automotive career. He quickly became CEO and quickly turned around the troubled Italian automaker getting the company profitable by 2006.
When Detroit’s automakers suffered from the automotive collapse in 2008, Marchionne saw the opportunity to not only improve the FIAT portfolio, but to grow the company’s profile globally. When the Obama administration was seriously considering shuttering Chrysler LLC after its bankruptcy, Marchionne was the only bidder. He struck a deal with nearly $8 billion U.S. Government loans, which he paid back two years later.
Known for wearing his trademark black sweaters, Marchionne was a force to reckon with. Finding talented employees hidden deep within the Chrysler Group, Marchionne replaced most of his management staff with young driven talent throughout the company. These managers helped along with UAW members and employees that didn’t take buyouts from when the company was in trouble, hired a new generation of staff members to lead the company in the right direction.
On October 12th, 2014, it became official when FIAT and the Chrysler LLC merged to make the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. known as FCA.
Not long thereafter Marchionne took FCA public. As FCA continued to grow, largely on the success of Jeep and Ram trucks, Marchionne became the most quotable executive in the business.
He wasn’t without his controversy. He actually told customers not to buy the FIAT 500 electric vehicle. He had to apologize for calling one of his FIAT engines an ethnic Italian name not repeatable. He angrily defended the company against the notion that FCA cheated on emissions.
His plan for retooling some U.S. factories to boost output of lucrative sport-utility vehicles and trucks while ending production of some unprofitable sedans became controversial in the industry. However, until recently other automakers like Ford Motor Company are following suit.
Marchionne became an automotive industry legend by exceeding every expectation and profit goal. He intended to retire from his frenetic pace in 2019, but never made it. His health failed him six months before that goal line.
Marchionne also leaves the company close to nearly paying off its debt before his 2019 deadline.
Sources: FCA, WDIV Detroit, Autoweek