Ex-Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne dies aged 66

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Sergio Marchionne, the man who engineered a historic merger between Fiat and Chrysler to rescue the Detroit automaker from financial collapse, died Wednesday in Switzerland.

The Italian-Canadian executive's passing was confirmed today by Exor, the holding company of Fiat's founding Agnelli family.

"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone", it read.

We reached out to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for an official update on Marchionne's health and will update when we hear back.

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Chase Carey, the chief executive of F1, described Mr Marchionne as "a great leader", both for the sport and in business world generally.

In Marchionne's final full year FCA earnings call in January 2018, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas stated: "We hadn't seen anything like you".

The formidable vehicle industry executive was responsible for the turnaround of Chrysler in 2009 when the USA carmaker emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection having received emergency funds from the U.S. government.

Fiat Chrysler chairman John Elkann named Michael Manley, head of the company's Jeep and Ram truck divisions, to replace Marchionne at an emergency meeting in Turin, Italy on Saturday.

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A company veteran who joined Fiat in 1990, Altavilla took charge of the group's struggling European operations in 2012 and returned them to profit three years later.

Under Marchionne's guidance, Fiat Chrysler has enjoyed huge gains in its long-popular Jeep brand, and it built on the Dodge Challenger (reintroduced in 2008) to become a player in the resurgent muscle vehicle market.

After taking the reins of Fiat in 2004, Marchionne famously unwound a partnership with General Motors and got GM to pay $2 billion for the privilege.

While this was a threat made many times during the legendary Italian team's long history, somehow, coming from Marchionne, it seemed more feasible. Our thoughts are with Manuela, and his sons Alessio and Tyler.

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According to Automotive News, a report from Italy late Tuesday indicated that Marchionne suffered an embolism after "high-risk" surgery to remove a sarcoma in his shoulder in late June.