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FCA And Ferrari Name New CEOs To Replace Ailing Marchionne

Sergio Marchionne's struggling to recover from surgery, prompting an accelerated succession plan.

We all knew the day would come when Sergio Marchionne would step down. Nobody anticipated it would happen this quickly, but that's just the crisis which Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is now dealing.

Following unexpected and apparently drastic complications from surgery, FCA and two of its offshoots have been quickly forced to name successors to Marchionne in several key positions – not the least of which is the job of CEO of the the Italian-American automotive giant. That role will now fall to Michael Manley.

The British executive has been with Chrysler since 2000 (when it was still owned by Daimler). He's risen through the ranks over the years (and various eras of ownership), running the Jeep brand since 2009 and Ram since 2015. He's long been touted as a potential successor to the top job and was apparently already slated to take over from Marchionne upon his eventual retirement, but that process has now been accelerated.

Manley will also assume Marchionne's direct responsibility for the NAFTA region, having previously run Chrysler's APAC and overseas regional operations. But the rest of Marchionne's responsibilities are being divvied up among other executives.

Not the least of them are Marchionne's roles as chairman and chief executive of Ferrari, which he assumed after spinning the exotic automaker off from FCA and dismissing its previous chairman Luca di Montezemolo and chief executive Amedeo Felisa. With his health deteriorating and apparently not expected to return to work, Ferrari has named John Elkann as chairman and Louis C. Camilleri as CEO.

The scion of the Agnelli family fortune and chairman of its Exor holding company, Elkann controls over 29 percent of FCA's shares and nearly 23 percent of Ferrari's. So his more direct involvement is somewhat less surprising than that of Camilleri, who has until now served as chairman of Philip Morris International (and a non-executive member of Ferrari's board of directors). The tobacco giant is one of Ferrari's main sponsors. In his new job, the Egyptian-born executive will be reunited with Maurizio Arrivabene, the head of Ferrari's racing division who was previously one of Camilleri's top lieutenants as head of the Marlboro brand.

At the same time, CNH Industrial has named Suzanne Heywood to the chair of its board – another position previously held by Marchionne. Heywood has until now served as managing director of the Elkann/Agnelli family's Exor holding company (which holds nearly 27 percent of CNH's shares). She'll now be overseeing the industrial vehicle/equipment group that was spun off from Fiat during FCA's formation six years ago and which includes Iveco, Case, New Holland, and the former industrial-engines division of Fiat Powertrain Technologies.

“I am profoundly saddened to learn of Sergio’s state of health,” said Elkann in a released statement. “The succession plans we have just announced, even if not without pain from a personal point of view, mean we can guarantee the maximum possible continuity, preserving our companies’ unique cultures. It has been my privilege to have had Sergio at my side for all these years.”

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