Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Auto industry loses 'real giant' after Marchionne dies aged 66

Auto industry loses 'real giant' after Marchionne dies aged 66

Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported he passed away today at the University Hospital Zurich after being admitted on 27 June for shoulder surgery. It did not give the timing of any of the cardiac events.

Manley, who was born in the United Kingdom, is the first Fiat CEO not born in Italy.

Marchionne, who was Italian and Canadian, had revived Fiat by 2009 when he was picked by the US government to save USA -based Chrysler from its trip through bankruptcy protection after being owned by a private equity company. He died on Wednesday. "On behalf of the entire FIA community, all my thoughts go out to his family, his friends and his Ferrari and Fiat-Chrysler group teams".

Sergio Marchionne, the man responsible for turning around the fortunes of the FCA (Fiat Chrysler) Group, has died aged 66.

Marchionne resurrected one of Italy's biggest corporate names and revitalized Chrysler, succeeding where the US company's two previous owners - Mercedes parent Daimler and private equity group Carberus - failed.

Born in Italy, raised and educated in Canada, Marchionne was a worldwide leader who believed in the importance of Detroit's status as the center of the auto industry.

Cgil's Fiom metalworkers union clashed with Marchionne over changes he brought to Italian plants to increase productivity.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sergio Marchionne", he said. At the Fiat plant in Pomigliano, Italy, where the popular Panda vehicle is produced, workers stopped production for 10 minutes.

"The biggest challenges we face and frankly we're going to continue to face. are all focused in China", Manley said.

Manley said "very, very cost conscious" Chinese consumers sat waiting for prices to come down. Marchionne brought it back to profitability in just one year, recording income of almost 1.5 billion euros in 2005. The financial analyst Massimo Vecchio, of the Italian investment bank Mediobanca, commented: "He's got a lot of American in his management style".

His next major move was to be the presentation of a new business plan in September for Ferrari, which he aimed to turn into a luxury company beyond just cars to further boost earnings. "Moving to page 3, Q2 wasn't up to our expectations..."

German auto expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer described Fiat Chrysler as "a weak company and now with Marchionne's departure, it has become even weaker".

With Marchionne unable to helm the company, FCA's board of directors held a meeting to accelerate a CEO transition process that had already named Mike Manley as the new head of the company.

And he subsequently merged Fiat with the troubled U.S. group Chrysler in 2009, transforming the combined entity into a global player that boasted a record performance in 2017.

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