TURIN -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Saturday appointed Mike Manley to replace the seriously ill Sergio Marchionne as its CEO.
Manley, 54, a native of England, has headed Jeep since 2009 and the Ram brand since 2015.
"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," the company said in a statement. "As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work.
"The Board of Directors of FCA, meeting today, firstly expressed its closeness to Sergio Marchionne and his family and underlined the extraordinary contribution, both human and professional, that he has made to the Company in these years.
"The Board resolved to accelerate the CEO transition process that has been proceeding over the past months and named Mike Manley as CEO."
An emergency meeting of the FCA board of directors to appoint a replacement was chaired in Turin by John Elkann, the FCA chairman and controlling shareholder of Ferrari, FCA and construction equipment maker CNH Industrial.
"Mr. Manley and his management team will proceed with the implementation of the 2018–2022 Business Plan as presented on June 1 of this year, a plan that will further assure FCA’s strong and independent future," the FCA statement said.
Marchionne, 66, had surgery on his right shoulder and needs a short period of convalescence, an FCA spokesman told Italian business website Lettera 43 on July 5. He has not been seen in public since June 26, when he delivered a Jeep Wrangler to the Carabinieri police in Rome.
Marchionne, who became CEO of Fiat in 2004 and orchestrated its merger with Chrysler Group a decade later, had said his successor, originally scheduled to be appointed in April 2019 after approval of the 2018 financial results, was going to come from the company's Group Executive Council. At FCA capital market day in Balocco, Italy, on June 1, Marchionne said: “My successor sits in this room.”
Manley prevailed over two other FCA veterans: CFO Richard Palmer and Alfredo Altavilla, the COO of FCA's Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
'ABSOLUTE BEST CHOICE’
"Mike is the absolute best choice from a strong field," Jim Press, the former co-president of Chrysler Group, said in an e-mailed statement to Automotive News.
“Sergio deserves all the credit as the master architect behind FCA’s recovery and Mike was instrumental in building today’s prosperity. The company is in great hands with Mike Manley at the wheel and it’s wonderful news for the dealer body.”
Press now is president of RML Automotive in Dallas and also is the former president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
Manley, born in Edenbridge, England, has been part of the Group Executive Council, FCA's governing body, since 2011.
He joined DaimlerChrysler in 2000 as director of network development at DaimlerChrysler UK. He held different international positions at DaimlerChrysler and then Chrysler before being appointed president and CEO of Jeep at post-bankruptcy Chrysler Group in June 2009.
Under his watch, Jeep's global sales have quadrupled, and the brand is within reach of selling 1 million vehicles in the U.S. for the first time this year.
Manley also oversaw the expansion of Jeep into China as COO of FCA’s Asia-Pacifica region, which has become a third profit center for the automaker behind North America and Europe, from 2011-2017. He formed a close relationship with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. executives to significantly grow a joint venture with the Chinese automaker for localized manufacturing and a sales and distribution network in the country.
In October 2015, Manley, who holds a Master of Business Administration from Ashridge Management College, also was given responsibility for the Ram brand.
Ferrari separately named board member Louis C. Camilleri, who is non-executive chairman and former CEO of Philip Morris International Inc., to replace Marchionne as CEO at the race car maker. Elkann will become chairman. Suzanne Heywood, managing director of the Agnelli family’s Exor NV, was named chairman of truck and farm-equipment maker CNH Industrial.
Mike Wayland and Bloomberg contributed to this report.