The former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Sergio Marchionne, who was the architect of the dramatic turnaround of the automaker, has died. Marchionne was 66.
A holding company of Fiat’s founding family, the Agnelli’s, Exor NV conformed on Wednesday that Marchionne had died. His death comes only days after he was abruptly replaced as Fiat Chrysler’s CEO. His health declined suddenly when he suffered complications following shoulder surgery.
In June of 2004, he was chosen by Fiat SpA to be its CEO. He took the Italian automaker from near bankruptcy to the New York Stock Exchange and rang the opening bell on October 13, 2014, which marked the debut of the London registered company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that was created when the Detroit automaker was taken over by Fiat.
Marchionne, who called himself a corporate fixer, was the fifth CEO at Fiat in just over 18 months when he took the reins. He took over for Giuseppe Morchio who had quit after the Agnelli family would not give him both the CEO and chairman titles, when Umberto Agnelli, then the chairman, died.
Marchionne took charge of an automaker that had lost over €6 billion equal to US $7 billion during 2003. By the end of 2005, the company was back to earning a profit through laying off workers, the introduction of new car models, slashing the time to bring a new car to market from 4 years to less than two, and wringing $2 billion from an alliance with GM.
During 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration made an announcement that Fiat would be taking over Chrysler after rescuing the company the American carmaker from bankruptcy.
That deal gave Marchionne what he called a big sense of responsibility. His office at Fiat’s headquarters in Turin, Italy was adorned with a poster in black and white that just said “competition” and a print by Picasso that bore the motto “Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.”
In his tenure with Fiat, Marchionne increased the value of the company over 10-fold through restructuring its auto business as well as separating assets. Amongst the spinoffs that were the biggest was the listing in 2015 of Ferrari NV, the supercar-maker, where Marchionne was both the chairman and CEO.
No word has been released as to when or where Marchionne’s funeral services will be held.