Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne. Picture: REUTERS
Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne. Picture: REUTERS

Rome — Shares in vehicle giant Fiat Chrysler dropped on the Milan stock exchange on Monday, after its boss of 14 years, Sergio Marchionne, stepped down at the weekend due to serious health issues.

As trading got under way, sister companies Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Ferrari and CNH Industrial saw their shares dip more than 4% each. The three groups are controlled by the Agnelli family.

By 8.30am GMT, FCA’s stock had recovered significantly, edging upwards to a 1.4% loss. Ferrari was down 1.8% while CNH Industrial lost 2.3%.

The losses came after Marchionne stepped down on Saturday after 14 years at the helm of Fiat. The 66-year-old suffered serious complications following surgery on his right shoulder in June and "will not come back to work", according to the Fiat Chrysler group.

The Italian-Canadian executive had taken the reins at Fiat in 2004. He revamped Fiat, Italy’s premier private enterprise, from top to bottom.

In 2009, he merged Fiat with US vehicle maker Chrysler, then hived off its industrial vehicles to create CNH Industrial in 2011 and successfully spun off luxury brand Ferrari in January 2016.

Marchionne will be replaced as FCA boss by Briton Mike Manley, head of the iconic Jeep brand.

The new head of the luxury carmaker Ferrari will be Louis Carey Camilleri, CEO of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The cigarette-maker has sponsored Ferrari for four decades.

Suzanne Heywood will take over as the new boss of CNH Industrial, which specialises in agricultural and construction equipment, trucks and buses.

Marchionne had been planning to step down in 2019. But experts have cast doubt on the ability of Marchionne’s successors to keep up the momentum he had built up over the years.

German vehicle expert Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer described Fiat Chrysler as "a weak company and now with Marchionne’s departure, it has become even weaker".

His successor at the helm of the sprawling FCA, Manley, "is no Marchionne", Dudenhoeffer said. Manley "is a car guy, and to manage Fiat Chrysler you need more than just a car guy", he said.

AFP