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Marchionne, Sergio

Sergio Marchionne courtesy press release https://www.prlog.org/11450775-time-magazine-named-sergio-marchionne-one-of-most-influential-people-in-the-world.html
Sergio Marchionne
was born on: 
Tue, 17/06/1952
Chieti, Italy
and died on: 
Wed, 25/07/2018
Zurich, Switzerland

Power in all things


The announcement, on 21 July 2018 that Sergio Marchionne had stepped down from his job as the head of the Fiat Chrysler group, which owns, amongst other brands, Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Jeep, was a surprise. The indefatigable man who for more than a decade has shuttled, by private jet, between Italy and the USA turning a not very successful Fiat and a basket case Chrysler (which had fallen into a bad state after a merger with Daimler-Benz fell apart several years into the project) seemingly by force of will.

He took over the reigns at Fiat after the death of two members of the Agnelli family and set about improving quality, products and reducing costs. In and around Turin in Italy's industrial north, Marchionne went from villain to hero as his tactics proved their worth. Chrysler was in a similar position: under-investment in plant and technology, outdated vehicles, union control of plants were amongst the reasons that the company, aside from massive debt, was on its knees. With restructuring, the company came back from the brink and the Jeep and RAM brands, in particular, began to eat away at the parlous state of the US division.

In June 2018, Marchionne announced that, for the first time in decades, the company was free of debt. That, a decade earlier, would have been unthinkable. He had mentioned several long-term plans for various divisions but also said that, at the end of 2018, he would step down. A few days after the announcement of the company's balance sheet being positive, Marchionne was admitted to University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, ostensibly for an operation on his shoulder. Unspecified complications resulted and it was announced that he would be unable to return to work. It was later announced, by the hospital, that it had been treating him for "a serious illness" for a year. A spokesman for Fiat Chrysler told reporters after his death that the company was unaware of his illness and even then did not know what it was. It was, however, aware of the operation on his shoulder.

The world of Formula One, in particular, was shocked first by the news that he was leaving and then, only days later, that he had died. He was a force of nature albeit one that was fiercely pro Ferrari, sometimes against the interest of the sport as a whole: he was fond of saying that, without Ferrari, there would be no Formula One. He put Alfa Romeo branding on Sauber and turned them into a customer for Ferrari engines. HAAS, previously thought to be "Ferrari Light" after help from Ferrari in development, remained customers for the engines and other components. Three days after he died, Ferrari put the latest generation in the Saubers for the Hungarian Grand Prix, with commentators saying that Ferrari were using customers as test beds. His last race nominally in charge of the company and its associated F1 team was a disappointment for Ferrari fans as Sebastian Vettel drove head-first into a barrier turning a probable win into a costly DNF.

Divorced several years ago, he leaves his long-term girlfriend, Manuela Battezzato, and two adult sons, Alessio and Tyler. He was 66 years old.

Editorial Staff