Former Fiat Chrysler CEO Marchionne dies

By Business LeadersFOXBusiness

Bob Nardelli on the passing of former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne

Former Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli and Benchmark Managing Partner Kevin Kelly on the passing of former Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Former Fiat Chrysler (FCA) chief executive Sergio Marchionne has died, the carmaker's controlling family shareholder said Wednesday.

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Marchionne, who was 66, fell gravely ill after suffering complications following recent surgery in a Zurich hospital, according to Reuters.

On Saturday FCA replaced Marchionne, a lawyer, as CEO with Mike Manley, a British engineer, saying Marchionne's condition had worsened. The 54-year-old Manley, who has been with the company since 2000, led the Jeep brand's dramatic global expansion over the last decade.

"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone," FCA Chairman John Elkann, of the controlling Agnelli family, said in a statement.

Marchionne  engineered turnarounds to save both Fiat and Chrysler from near-certain failure.

Marchionne joined Fiat in 2004 and led the Turin-based company's merger with bankrupt U.S. carmaker Chrysler. He built the dysfunctional companies into the world's seventh-largest automaker.

"There is no doubt that Sergio was a very special, unique man, and there is no doubt that he's going to be sorely missed," Manley said during Fiat Chrysler's earnings call Wednesday.

Tributes from industry and labor leaders cited Marchionne's long-term effect on the industry.

"Sergio created a remarkable legacy in the automotive industry. Our thoughts are also with our industry colleagues at Fiat Chrysler as they deal with this sudden loss," General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.

The great-grandson of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford praised Marchionne's managerial skill.

"Sergio Marchionne was one of the most respected leaders in the industry whose creativity and bold determination helped to restore Chrysler to financial health and grow Fiat Chrysler into a profitable global automaker," Bill Ford said in a statement.

Cindy Estrada, vice president of the United Auto Workers, said the former FCA head was committed to including unions in his corporate strategy.

"UAW FCA members recognize that Sergio Marchionne helped build a growing company that provides job stability and certainty for their families every day," Estrada said in a statement.

Shares of FCA were down more than 9%.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.