Sergio Marchionne, the longtime Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV chief executive who passed away this week, had been seriously ill for more than a year and in that period received recurring treatment, according to the Zurich hospital where he died.
Marchionne also took a close interest in the careers of young drivers, notably Monaco's Charles Leclerc, part of the Ferrari Driver Academy who now drives for Sauber and is tipped to join the Italian giants even as early as next year.
While the company said it didn't have the facts, it wasn't forthcoming with some information it now says it knew.
As detailed in this profile ("Driving Success") I wrote of Marchionne in 2010, he spent his twenties sweeping up academic credentials (B.Com, MBA) and professional designations (CGA, CA, LL.B). When Lawson was acquired by a Swiss-based company, Marchionne rose to CEO, then jumped ship to SGS Group, owned by the legendary Agnelli family of auto racing fame. While he started small with limited industrial alliances, his ambitions soon grew. He built the dysfunctional companies into the world's seventh-largest automaker. FCA states that Manley and his management team will proceed with the implementation of the 2018 2022 Business Plan as presented on June 1 of this year, a plan that will further assure FCA's strong and independent future. "So it's not going to happen until we close '18".
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He had previously planned to step down from the post in 2019, but his health "worsened significantly" at the weekend and he was replaced on Saturday by Mike Manley, 54, who had led Fiat Chrysler in North America as well as its Ram and Jeep brands.
A auto fanatic and especially passionate about the luxury vehicle brand Ferrari, Marchionne divided his time between his three homes in Turin, Switzerland and Detroit. The market reaction to today's figures suggests investors are still nervous about Mr Manley's ability to replace the former lynchpin of the company. He had last been seen in public on June 26, at an event in Rome.
Marchionne, who had Italian-Canadian citizenship, is survived by his partner Manuela Battezzato, who works in the Fiat Chrysler press office, as well as his two adult sons from his marriage to Orlandina.