Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne steps down due to ill health

Marchionne is widely credited with rescuing Chrysler after the financial crisis left US automakers on the brink of collapse. Watch interviews he did with CNN's Poppy Harlow in 2010 and 2011 during the company's comeback.

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 5:33 AM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 5:55 AM

Fiat Chrysler on Saturday announced the sudden resignation of longtime CEO Sergio Marchionne, who is stepping down due to complications from surgery.

Replacing him will be the be the former boss of FCA's Ram and Jeep brands, Mike Manley.

The company said in a statement that "unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours."

"As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work," the statement said.

Marchionne is an automotive industry legend, and is widely credited with rescuing Chrysler after the financial crisis left US car companies limping along. Known for logging long hours at work, he rarely wears a suit and is often seen in black sweaters that have become his trademark.

Marchionne, 66, will also leave his roles as chairman and chief executive at Ferrari, which was spun off from FCA several years ago. The luxury carmaker said Louis Camilleri, a Ferrari board member and chairman of Philip Morris International Inc., will become CEO.

Sergio Marchionne, the man who saved Chrysler, unveils the plan for when he's gone

John Elkann, a member of the Agnelli family that founded Fiat in 1899, will become Ferrari's chairman.

Elkann issued a statement saying he was "profoundly saddened" by news of Marchionne's health problems.

"Over the past 14 years together we have lived through successes and difficulties, internal and external crises, but also unique and unrepeatable moments, both personal and professional," Elkann, the chairman of Exor, which owns a large stake in FCA, said in the statement.

When Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, there was serious doubt that the automaker could be saved. The Obama administration was in the process of bailing out rival General Motors, but it was debating whether it should just let Chrysler die.

Obama's team eventually decided to bail Chrysler out to avoid another shock to the economy -- and to Chrysler's suppliers -- more than because of any real faith in the automaker's long term viability.

Plunging Fiat sales leave its American future in doubt

Marchionne was the CEO of Fiat when he brought Chrysler out of bankruptcy in 2009. He rebuilt the company into a debt-free, profitable global automaker.

Chrysler fully merged with Fiat about four years ago.

Last year, the combined company sold 2 million vehicles in the United States, more than double its sales in the dark days of 2009. Globally, FCA sold 4.7 million cars last year.

But even with its current success, FCA still has some big problems.

For one thing, it's pretty small as far as automakers go, and economies of scale are critical when it comes to building cars. Fiat Chrysler is a distant third in US sales and 8th globally.

That's why Marchionne had been looking for a potential buyer for Fiat Chrysler for most of the last ten years.

More recently, Marchionne expressed optimism about FCA's future.

He intended to step down from his role as CEO in April next year, and he laid out a plan for FCA to become the United State's most profitable automaker over the next five years.

"I've become irrelevant in all this," he quipped during a meeting with investors in Italy last month, according to Detroit News.

Things don't look good for Dodge and Chrysler

Analysts described Marchionne's departure as a loss for FCA.

"I would never bet against Marchionne," said Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

Lindland added that Manley, Marchionne's successor, was her top choice to take over as FCA's chief. But she envisioned Marchionne remaining a fixture at the company even after his retirement, helping to steer the company toward his goals for it.

Marchionne's departure will also cause ripple effects through the company's management. Manley will have the be replaced at the helm of FCA's most successful brand, Jeep, which he had been running "masterfully," Lindland said.

Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Autotrader, described Marchionne as a competent leader who took big risks that paid off. Most notably, he pushed for the Fiat-Chrysler merger despite those who said the Italian and American brands would never work as a combined company.

Marchionne "helped illustrate the power of foresight and confidence and being able to make bold moves," Brauer said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16560

Reported Deaths: 794
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds107426
Madison76728
Lauderdale75968
Neshoba72844
Jones70133
Scott66312
Forrest59539
DeSoto57510
Rankin4569
Leake45212
Holmes44330
Copiah3294
Jackson31415
Attala31118
Yazoo2964
Newton2884
Lincoln28031
Leflore27736
Oktibbeha27314
Harrison2697
Monroe26925
Wayne2623
Lamar2505
Lowndes2479
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20316
Washington1987
Warren19610
Lee1948
Noxubee1936
Covington1792
Bolivar16911
Jasper1674
Clarke15619
Smith15511
Kemper15511
Lafayette1544
Chickasaw14014
Coahoma1314
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1155
Lawrence1071
Grenada1074
Simpson1040
Yalobusha1046
Sunflower923
Tate911
Hancock9012
Union897
Itawamba897
Marshall873
Wilkinson859
Panola843
Montgomery841
Webster844
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun674
Amite661
Walthall640
Humphreys637
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Perry513
Choctaw502
Pontotoc473
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Greene331
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie301
George292
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18766

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2321118
Jefferson1901104
Montgomery185843
Tuscaloosa83616
Marshall7089
Franklin5858
Lee56234
Shelby52819
Tallapoosa43466
Butler42118
Walker3862
Elmore3749
Chambers36026
Madison3534
Unassigned3062
Morgan3021
Baldwin2939
Dallas2923
Lowndes26512
Etowah26312
DeKalb2573
Autauga2415
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2176
Pike2120
Colbert1902
Hale1859
Russell1810
Barbour1771
Marengo1756
Lauderdale1722
Calhoun1673
Wilcox1577
Choctaw15310
Cullman1521
Clarke1492
St. Clair1351
Randolph1287
Dale1240
Marion12411
Pickens1205
Talladega1195
Limestone1080
Chilton1071
Greene954
Macon934
Winston910
Jackson833
Covington821
Henry822
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington736
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe462
Geneva440
Perry430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Tupelo
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 74°
Columbus
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 72°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather