Former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne dies

Former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne dies

Former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne dies

Paris - Sergio Marchionne, the emblematic head of FIAT Chrysler who helped reignite mighty Ferrari as a Formula 1 superpower, was described as a "colossal visionary" on Wednesday as the sport mourned his death.

Former Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI) Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne for more than a year assured investors that he and the automaker's board were working on an orderly succession plan ahead of his expected departure in 2019.

According to Automotive News, a report from Italy late Tuesday indicated that Marchionne suffered an embolism after "high-risk" surgery to remove a sarcoma in his shoulder in late June.

Born in the Italian town of Chieti in 1952, the charismatic Marchionne was educated in Canada and moved through the world of legal matters and accounting before joining Fiat in 2003, becoming CEO a year later.

New FCA CEO Mike Manley said Marchionne "was a special man", asking for a minute's silence on his debut with financial analysts in presenting FCA's disappointing second-quarter results, with profits 35% down.

"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone", John Elkann, FCA President and Ferrari Chairman, said in a statement.

Sergio Marchionne was named CEO of Fiat in 2004 as the company was struggling. Regarded as a savoir of Fiat, Italy's automotive champion, the Italian-born Marchionne set in motion the marriage between Fiat and bankrupt USA rival Chrysler just over a decade ago. It is now the world's seventh-largest carmaker and is debt-free.

FCA shares plunged 14.4 per cent to $16.50 in midday trading in NY.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Manley said "very, very cost conscious" Chinese consumers sat waiting for prices to come down. "At this hard time we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues". The two companies officially became one in 2014.

The auto industry has lost one of its strongest protagonists for mergers and acquisitions at a time when strategic alliances with technology companies are increasingly supplanting transformational mergers between traditional carmakers.

"It is with the deepest sadness that Exor has learned of the passing of Sergio Marchionne", Exor, which is owned by the Agnelli family, said in a statement.

Overall, Fiat Chrysler reported a 6 per cent increase in shipments to 1.3 million, boosting revenue by 4 per cent to €29bn.

His successor at the helm of the sprawling FCA, Manley, "is no Marchionne", Dudenhoeffer said.

"I don't care what a tough guy he was to work for, he saved our company", said Cass Burch, a Chrysler and Jeep dealer in Georgia.

Marchionne, pictured. His "extraordinary leadership, candor and passion for the industry will be missed", Bill Ford said.

Jetting between the company's offices and design studios in Europe and the United States, Marchionne dominated Fiat Chrysler, eclipsing the executives under him. "I think we all agree Sergio Marchionne will be remembered for his many contributions to the industry". He also had a penchant for witty comments, such as suggesting in 2011 that anyone who thought Chrysler could have survived its 2009 bankruptcy without assistance from the US government was "smoking illegal material".

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