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Home / Business / Fiat Chrysler taps Jeep Head as new CEO to replace Ailing Marchionne

Fiat Chrysler taps Jeep Head as new CEO to replace Ailing Marchionne



Detroit-

Fiat Chrysler automobiles


FCAU -1.08%

NV named the boss of his Jeep brand as his new general manager on Saturday in an unexpected move to replace the ailing ones

Sergio Marchionne,

which started the merger of Fiat and Chrysler and led the combined company for almost a decade.

Fiat Chrysler Board called

Mike Manley

as CEO, saying that Mr. Marchionne would not be able to return after suffering complications in a surgical procedure earlier this month. The move comes months after Mr. Marchionne's planned launch early next year and just weeks after he announced a strategy to 2022 to increase the company's global sales volume and profitability.

Mr. Manley, 54, joined FordC's predecessor company DaimlerChrysler AG in 2000 and has led Jeep since Chrysler LLC ended bankruptcy nine years later under its contract with Fiat. The cult brand for Sport Utility is one of Fiat Chrysler's strongest companies and contributes to the steady recovery of the company's profitability.

The new CEO will take over at a time when Fiat Chrysler has a strong record Regulatory Crisis with Vulnerability, Suspected Fraud and Bribery Allegations

Fiat Chrysler Chairman

John Elkann

said the move was "unthinkable until a few hours ago" but would provide stability for the company.

"The succession plans we have announced, even if they are not without pain from a personal point of view, mean that we can guarantee the maximum possible continuity, the preservation of the unique cultures of our companies," said Mr. Elkann.

Mr. Marchionne, who is 66 years old, had announced he would step down as CEO early next year, but would continue to serve as Chairman and Chief Executive of

Ferrari

NV, which was spun off Fiat Chrysler and became an independent company in 201

6.

Ferrari said separately that Mr. Elkann would take over the role of Mr. Marchionne as chairman of the luxury sports car manufacturer. Member of the Advisory Board

Louis Camilleri,

a former chairman of Philip Morris International would follow Mr. Marchionne as CEO of Ferrari.

The Italian-American automaker has not stated the type of Mr. Marchionne's illness, but said earlier this month he had an operation on his right shoulder. Company representatives have said privately that he was absent from his daily role in the company for weeks.

Mr. Marchionne, a workaholic known for writing blunt comments and wearing black sweaters instead of formal business attire, was an overseas presence in the auto industry. Under his supervision, Fiat Chrysler has puzzled critics on Wall Street and elsewhere, achieving most of the debt reduction and profit targets.

Fiat Chrysler largely achieved the profit targets outlined in its latest strategic plan, which dates back to 2014, and was threefold, which some analysts predicted. Since then, the company's share price has nearly quadrupled and its 6% profit margin is higher than Crosstown's

Ford engine
Co.

5.2% margin and approach

General Motors
Co.

7.2%.

Mr. Manley has not made a statement, but a company spokesman said he would get in touch with financial analysts next week after Fiat Chrysler released its second-quarter earnings report.

Write to Chester Dawson at chester.dawson@wsj.com


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