Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been abruptly replaced by in-house executive Mike Manley on grounds of serious illness.
The 66-years-old manager had surgery on his shoulder a month ago. Yesterday, Fiat issued a press release announcing that Marchionne “after the operation ran into some complications that have worsened significantly in recent hours, preventing him to come back to work”. Media sources report that he may suffer from a lung cancer, although this was not officially confirmed.
Who is Sergio Marchionne?
Sergio Marchionne spent fourteen years in charge of Fiat, getting popular stateside and abroad for restoring Fiat Group, the biggest Italian company, which in recent years has been also one of the fastest growing groups in the automotive industry.
Marchionne became Fiat CEO in 2004, when the company did not produce net growth and was not paying dividends already since 2002. In 2007, he launched the new model of Fiat 500, declaring that he wanted “Fiat to became the Apple of the future. And Fiat 500 will be our iPod”.
In 2009, he came even more to prominence when he successfully managed to convince Barack Obama and the U.S. government and trade unions to form a strategic alliance between the historic Turin-based car maker company and the American counterpart Chrysler, saving thousands of jobs in Michigan and other American states.
In 2012, after several successful consolidation efforts, he remembered that “success is never permanent, you got to earn it day after day”. Following this trail, in 2014, he concluded the merger between Fiat and Chrysler, forming the seventh-largest automobile holding company in the world: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Sergio Marchionne was born in Chieti, Abruzzo, following the relocation of his parents from Istria after World War II, when the region was then occupied by the Yugoslav army. At the age of thirteen, he emigrated with his family to Toronto, Canada. For this reason, the manager has a dual Canadian and Italian citizenship, speaking both Italian and English fluently.
Known for his informal negotiation style and clothing (he never wears ties, as he has got “way too much work to do”), in 2007 he declared that “Italy is one of the greatest countries, but also one with the most untapped potential that I know. A country that does not love itself. On the headlines, you can only read about arguments and disputes that don’t have any impact on Italy and on the future of young people. If we don’t stop these debates, we won’t go very far”.