Former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne dies

CEO Sergio Marchionne

Former Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne has died following a 14-year career where he helped to rescue the automaker, the news arriving on Wednesday moments before the group reported a heavy drop in profit.

The declaration of the death of Marchionne, one of the auto industry’s most tenacious and acclaimed CEOs, drew tributes from competitors and tears from his closest colleagues, a collective grief that overshadowed a big sell-off in Fiat Chrysler shares.

He had fallen gravely ill after what the company had said as shoulder surgery in a Zurich hospital. He was replaced as chief executive last week after Fiat Chrysler stated his condition had worsened.

FCA’s planned second-quarter earnings presentation, led by Marchionne’s successor and former lieutenant Mike Manley, started on Wednesday afternoon with a minute of silence.

As eulogies flooded in, FCA shares dropped up to 10 percent as investors digested an unexpected 35 percent drop in net profit, much below market forecasts.

“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” FCA Chairman John Elkann, scion of the controlling Agnelli family, stated.

Marchionne rescued Fiat and Chrysler from bankruptcy when he took wheel of the Italian automaker in 2004 and he multiplied Fiat’s value 11 times during 14 years of canny dealmaking. He was due to step down at automaker in April next year.

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