Marchionne, CEO of Fiat, Chrysler, Ferrari exits suddenly; Manley ascends

Mike Manley, head of Jeep and Ram, takes helm at FCA effective immediately amidst Marchionne health crisis.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
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Sergio Marchionne, the outspoken CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ferrari and CNH Industrial, has given up his leadership roles and has left his companies. According to a statement released by the automaker, Mike Manley, the head of FCA's Jeep and Ram brands, assumes CEO duties at the automaker with immediate effect.

According to a press release, "Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours."

FCA previously confirmed that Marchionne had undergone shoulder surgery earlier in July. His current health condition is not immediately clear.

Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne
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Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne

FCA and Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne is exiting his chairmanships over health issues.

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Marchionne, 66, is credited with brokering the deal between Fiat and Chrysler in 2009, guiding the latter through bankruptcy. The outspoken, charismatic executive has long been viewed as one of the most powerful CEOs in the industry. Marchionne was expected to retire from his role as chairman of FCA in April 2019, and Manley had been viewed as one of the leading candidates for to assume his role. 

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Mike Manley, FCA's new CEO.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

FCA's board of directors met in an emergency session on Saturday, and "resolved to accelerate the CEO transition process that has been proceeding over the past months and named Mike Manley as CEO. The Board will therefore propose to the next Shareholder Meeting, to be called in the coming days, that he be elected to the Board and serve as an executive director of the Company." 

In the meantime, Manley has been granted "with immediate effect" all the powers of CEO. The company's NAFTA region operations will also fall under his control.

Manley has been the head of Jeep since July, 2009, and has presided over profound global growth for the brand. Leadership of the Ram truck brand was added to his plate of responsibilities in 2015. Both brands have grown to become widely viewed as the financial engines of FCA and the company's most valuable assets.

The board of Ferrari convened in a hastily called session on Saturday, thereafter announcing that John Elkann has been named chairman of Ferrari, and Louis Carey Camilieri is the Italian sportscar manufacturer's newly minted chief executive. 

Elkann is the scion of the Agnelli clan that has long controlled Fiat. Camilieri, the one-time head of tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris (the chief sponsor of Ferrari's Formula 1 team), has been a Ferrari board member since 2015.

CNH Industrial, the agricultural machinery and truck firm, has reportedly elected Suzanne Heywood, as the new chair of its operations. Heywood has served as managing director of EXOR, the Netherlands-based holding company run by the Agnelli family that controls Fiat, since 2016.

Update 9:48a.m. PT - Official confirmation of Marchionne's departure and Manley's FCA appointment added.

Update: 7:30p.m. PT - News of Ferrari and CNH Industrial's new leadership added.