Ferrari chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne has taken early retirement due to illness, the carmaker has announced. Its board of directors will nominate John Elkann, the current chairman of FIAT and grandson of its founder Gianni Agnelli, as chairman.
Marchionne’s health problems have been suspected for some time given he has not been seen in public since the end of June. Ferrari did not disclose any details of Marchionne’s illness, beyond stating that unexpected complications from recent shoulder surgey have left him unfit to return to work.
“Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. 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,” a statement reads.
“The Board’s thoughts are with Sergio Marchionne and his family and it is grateful for the extraordinary contribution he has made in recent years at the helm of Ferrari.”
The Italian-Canadian executive had been due to take retirement at the end of the year, but his current situation has accelerated that decision at a critical time for Ferrari given its protracted negotiations with Formula 1 owners Liberty Media about the future of the sport.
Marchionne has been a strident opponent against plans to impose spending caps and been vocal in his desire to move Charles Leclerc from Sauber to Ferrari as a replacement for Kimi Räikkönen. Whether the team’s new leadership will continue with his position remains to be seen.
With FIAT heir John Elkann named as Ferrari’s new chairman, the Maranello company will propose CEO nominations to its shareholders. Contenders for the role include Mike Manley, the head of Jeep, while former Philip Morris chairman Louis Camilleri will also be nominated. The CEO duties have been split between the two as an interim measure until the roles are finalised.
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