Fiat Chrysler Automobile announced Saturday that CEO Sergio Marchionne's health had suddenly deteriorated following surgery and that its board of directors had chosen Jeep executive Mike Manley to replace him. The Italian-Canadian's illness has also accelerated change on the board of Ferrari, the luxury vehicle maker he chaired, and spun off from FCA in 2016.
Marchionne had already announced he would step down from FCA in early 2019, so the board's decision, to be confirmed at an upcoming shareholders' meeting, will "accelerate" the CEO transition process, the statement said. Ferrari's board has named John Elkann as a new chairman, and will propose to shareholders that Louis C Camilleri be named CEO.
Marchionne, who is 66 years old, recently underwent surgery on his right shoulder and was expected to miss the company's second-quarter sales call due to the procedure.
In a separate statement, Ferrari paid tribute to "the extraordinary contribution" Marchionne had made to the firm.
At the June appearance, Marchionne also predicted Fiat was about to eliminate its debt.
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He is not believed to have been politically radicalised and there were no signs of a terrorist background, said officials. Police said authorities were still trying to determine the circumstances of and motive for the attack.
Marchionne became Fiat's CEO in 2004, overseeing the merger with Chrysler to create FCA.
An emergency meeting of the FCA board of directors to appoint a replacement was chaired in Turin.
British-born Manley, who also takes responsibility for the North America region, will implement a strategy outlined by Marchionne last month to ensure the company has a "strong and independent future", FCA said in a statement. "His global experience in growing that brand will play a key role as he applies those techniques to all of the Fiat Chrysler divisions".
The two men have worked together for 14 years and while they did not always agree, Elkann watched Marchionne create the company now known as FCA from the partnership of an ailing Fiat and a bankrupt Chrysler in 2008 that needed a business partner as a condition of exiting bankruptcy protection.
Marchionne's tenure also has been controversial at times.