Sergio Marchionne, who restored Fiat Chrysler to financial health after its 2009 bankruptcy, has died after he was forced to leave his post as chief executive last week due to medical complications from a surgery. He was 66.
"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass," said John Elkann, chairman of FCA's holding company Exor. "Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone."
Marchionne left his post on July 21, and FCA has named Mike Manley, head of the Jeep and Ram brands, to succeed him in a move that accelerated his planned retirement in 2019.
As CEO of Fiat S.p.A. since June of 2004, Marchionne led the company's merger with Chrysler following the global financial crisis. President Barack Obama announced in 2009 that Fiat would take control of the company, and the two formally merged in 2014.
Marchionne's peers quickly offered praise and condolences.
"We at General Motors offer our condolences to Sergio Marchionne’s family and friends," said Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors. "Sergio created a remarkable legacy in the automotive industry."
In 2015, Marchionne had hoped to merge with General Motors.
Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., also praised Marchionne.
"Sergio Marchionne was one of the most respected leaders in the industry whose creativity and bold determination helped to restore Chrysler to financial health and grow Fiat Chrysler into a profitable global automaker," Ford said. "His extraordinary leadership, candor and passion for the industry will be missed by everyone who knew him."
Marchionne, who was born in Chieti, Italy in 1952, immigrated with his family to Toronto at age 13. He attended the University of Toronto for undergraduate studies, and later earned a masters in business administration and a law degree. He initially worked as an accountant and tax specialist for Deloitte & Touche in Canada. He rose through the executive ranks at several Canadian companies and was named the CEO and managing director of SGS S.A. of Geneva in 2002. He was elected as an independent board member of Fiat S.p.A. in May of 2003.