The Italian-Canadian executive lead the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and took it public
One of the greatest leaders in the automotive industry has left this world as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has officially confirmed the passing of Sergio Marchionne.
The Italian-Canadian business leader joined Fiat in 2003 as a member of its board of directors, and was named its chief executive the following year. But he'll likely be best remembered for orchestrating the company's merger with Chrysler in 2009 after the latter's bankruptcy, for leading the merged entity in the years since, and for taking it public on the stock exchange.
A maverick captain of industry, Marchionne eschewed the typical suit-and-tie business attire and challenged long-held conventional thinking in the automotive industry. He pursued aggressive business strategies, spinning off profitable enterprises and discarding those that didn't help his company's bottom line, including leading the industry in moving away from unprofitable small cars and towards more lucrative trucks and crossovers – a move which rival Ford has since emulated.
Marchionne underwent shoulder surgery just days ago but suffered complications. He was reportedly placed on life support, but failed to recover. As his health deteriorated, Marchionne was quickly replaced as chairman and chief executive of Fiat Chrysler and its former Ferrari and CNH Industrial divisions. But now the company he founded and lead has confirmed his untimely passing at just 66 years old. He was expected to retire in the coming months.
"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone," said John Elkann, head of the Exor holding company that controls the largest portion of FCA's shares. "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."
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