Ailing Marchionne replaced by Elkann as Ferrari chairman

Ailing Marchionne replaced by Elkann as Ferrari chairman

"Fiat Chrysler Automobiles communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours".

Although FCA has not specified the nature of Marchionne's illness, the company revealed earlier this month that he had undergone surgery on his shoulder.

Reports suggest the Fiat-Chrysler board's decision to accelerate Marchionne's succession plan is rooted in a medical condition from which the 66-year-old manager is now suffering, and which could bring forth a departure initially scheduled for later this year. Ferrari announced Louis Camilleri, a longtime executive at Philip Morris International, to replace Marchionne as Ferrari's CEO.

"Marchionne will be unable to return to work", the statement said.

While FCA was already in the planning stage for a successor to Marchionne, the health issues mean a new CEO - Mike Manley - has today been named in the position.

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Elkann didn't give details of Marchionne's health problems, adding that his "first thoughts go to Sergio and his family". "It was a situation that was unthinkable until a few hours ago, and one that leaves us all with a sense of injustice". He asked everyone to respect Marchionne's "privacy and that of all those who are dear to him".

Elkann is the grandson of Gianni Agnelli, and serves as chairman and CEO of EXOR, the holding and investment company owned by the Agnelli and Elkann families.

The CEO of FCA since 2004, Marchionne has long said he anticipated stepping down in 2019. This will occur at the next shareholder's meeting which will be "called in the coming days".

Taking effect immediately, the board has granted Manley all the powers of CEO. Evidence of that: last month at an event to release the company's next five-year business plan, the sweater-wearing CEO wore a tie to signal he had paid down the debt, as promised. He's been heading the Jeep brand since 2009 and has also been running RAM and FCA in the Asia Pacific region.

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