Former Fiat and Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne dies aged 66

Sergio Marchionne, who turned around fortunes of Fiat and Chrysler while also helming Ferrari and Maserati, has died from surgical complications in Zurich

Long-time Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari and Maserati CEO Sergio Marchionne has died aged 66 due to complications from shoulder surgery.

Marchionne’s death was confirmed by Fiat’s holding company Exor NV, coming only days after he was replaced as CEO due to his ill-health.

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‘Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,’ said John Elkann, CEO of Exor.

Responsible for turning around the fortunes of Fiat since taking the helm in June 2004, Marchionne transformed the Italian carmaker – which had been on the brink of financial ruin before his 14-year tenure began.

After becoming Chrysler CEO in 2009 prior to the company’s full merger with Fiat, Marchionne became CEO and chairman of Ferrari in 2015, spinning it off into a separate public company from Fiat.

He was a genuine Ferrari fan beyond simply running the company professionally, owning a half-dozen of Maranello’s finest machines, including a black Enzo which he used to unwind. Marchionne at one point even crashed a $350,000 599 GTB while driving it through Switzerland.

Marchionne was also distinctly different from his contemporaries in dress sense, shunning neckties and suits for his trademark black woollen pullover, usually matched with jeans.

The timing of his death is especially tragic given his plans to hand over the reins of Fiat and Ferrari to a hand-picked successor next year, having been working behind the scenes for some time on a masterplan for the Prancing Horse’s future.

‘He taught us to think differently and to have the courage to change, often in unconventional ways, always acting with a sense of responsibility for the companies and their people,’ said Elkann.

‘He taught us that the only question that’s worth asking oneself at the end of every day is whether we have been able to change something for the better; whether we have been able to make a difference.’

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