Sergio Marchionne, the legendary auto industry executive, died Wednesday, just days after he stepped down as CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) following medical complications linked to an earlier surgery.
Marchionne who assumed the role of Fiat Chrysler CEO when the U.S. division emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, has been widely credited with steering the group into profitability thanks to shift towards larger vehicles in the U.S. market and a focus on group cost cuts. The 66-year-old Italian Canadian, who had planned to leave the group next year, was admitted to hospital in Switzerland earlier this week following the undisclosed complications.
"It is with the deepest sadness that EXOR has learned of the passing of Sergio Marchionne," said John Elkann in a statement published by Exor, a holding company controlled by the FCA chairman and Italy's Agnelli family. "Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass."
"Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone. I believe that the best way to honor his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion," the statement added. "My family and I will be forever grateful for what he has done. Our thoughts are with Manuela, and his sons Alessio and Tyler."
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Marchionne's death comes just hours ahead of the group's scheduled second quarter earnings report, the first under new CEO Michael Manley, the former head of its JEEP division, who was named as Marchionne's successor earlier this week as CEO of the world's eighth-largest automaker with a 236,000-strong workforce.
Fiat said adjusted second quarter operating earnings came in at €1.66 billion, well shy of the €2 billion consensus forecast on sales of €28.99 billion.
However, Fiat trimmed its full-year revenue guidance to between €115 billion and €118 billion, down from a prior forecast of €125 billion and said its adjusted operating earnings would fall into the €7.5 billion to €8 billion range.
Fiat shares fell more than 4% in Milan following the release, and were temporarily suspended by Boerse Italia officials before resuming trading 9.5% to the downside at €15.04 each while its U.S. listing were marked 7.7% lower in pre-market trading, indicating an opening bell price of $17.80 each.