The Fiat chief executive who took on the US

Following Fiat's historic $3.65 billion (€2.66 billion) deal with US car manufacturer Chrysler, announced on Wednesday, The Local takes a look at the life of Sergio Marchionne, the Italian company's chief executive praised for turning both companies around.

The Fiat chief executive who took on the US
Sergio Marchionne (R) is chief executive of both Fiat and Chrysler. Photos: Geoff Robins/AFP (L) and Chrysler

Who is Sergio Marchionne?

Sergio Marchionne is chief executive of both Fiat and the US-based Chrysler.

Why is he in the news?

On Wednesday, Fiat announced it would take full control of Chrysler, a move that has been in the works since 2009 when the Italian company bought a 20 percent stake as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

READ MORE: Fiat strikes deal for full merger with Chrysler

Why is the car deal important to Italians?

Marchionne said the deal would “go down in the history books” as it paves the way for a full merger between the companies to create a global auto giant.

The strengthening of the partnership will also come as welcome news to the 80,000 people in Italy working for Fiat, the country’s largest private sector employer.

Does this mean Marchionne will move Fiat to the US?

No. Although unionists have long feared that the Chrysler relationship would see Fiat go stateside, just four months ago the company announced a €1.0 billion investment in its Turin plant.

READ MORE: Fiat invests €1bn in sign of loyalty to Italy

Speaking to the Financial Times in September, Marchionne said: “We will never build outside [Italy]”.

“It may well be the next CEO that makes that call [to build elsewhere]. But it’s not me,” he told the newspaper.

How long has he worked for Fiat?

Marchionne became CEO in 2004. He’s since been praised for steering the company’s success, despite domestic sales being hard hit by the economic crisis.

The Chrysler move in 2009 was seen as a risky decision, but it paid off and Marchionne was soon being celebrated by Time magazine as a “Turnaround Artista”.

Marchionne, however, has been somewhat modest in his response to such praise. “Chrysler’s comeback is a direct result of a group of courageous individuals with an appetite for challenge and the will to seize and shape their own future,” he said last year.

Has Marchionne always worked in the car industry?

No. He started his career in the 1980s as an accountant and tax specialist with Deloitte & Touche. Also a trained barrister and solicitor, Marchionne worked his way up in the business world with stints at a printing and packaging firm as well as a gas company.

Before joining Fiat, he was CEO and chairman of Lonza Group, a chemicals and biotechnology company, and CEO of SGS Group of Geneva, a goods inspection company.

What did he do before launching his business career?

Marchionne was born in Chieti in the Abruzzo region, but emigrated to Canada at the age of 14. As a result, the bilingual businessman studied in Canada, graduating with a degree in philosophy and economics from the University of Toronto and a law degree from the city’s York University.

As if two degrees were not enough, he also has an MBA and a Bachelor of Commerce from Canada’s University of Windsor.

What advice does he have for big business?

“The secret of success is not in some bottle you can purchase off the shelf,” he said in June. “Any organization’s success depends, first and foremost, on the mindset and capabilities – both technical and cultural – of the group’s leaders.” 

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Fiat promises no job cuts in return for state aid: report

Fiat Chrysler has agreed to the conditions laid down for a state-backed €6.3 billion euro loan, including a promise not to relocate or cut jobs, Italy's Sole 24 Ore daily said Sunday.

Fiat promises no job cuts in return for state aid: report
Robots manufactured by Comau are pictured on the assembly line of the Fiat 500 BEV Battery Electric Vehicle. Photo: AFP

The state auditor has approved the guarantee, but it still needs to be signed off on by the economy ministry, the paper said.

The request for state support on such a large loan has proved controversial, particularly with the company's corporate headquarters in Amsterdam.

FCA — which directly employs close to 55,000 people in Italy — has said the loan is essential to help the group's Italy operations and the whole industry to weather the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company will commit to investing 5.2 billion euro in Italy on new and existing projects, and up to 1.2 billion euro on its 1,400 or so foreign suppliers, said Sole 24 Ore, Italy's financial newspaper.


FCA will also pledge not to cut any jobs before 2023.

The loan will be funded by Italy's largest commercial bank Intesa San Paolo and 80 percent guaranteed by export credit agency SACE, the daily said.

The government has said FCA would face sanctions if it failed to stick to the conditions laid down for loan. Sole 24 Ore said the fine for breaking the agreement could be in the region of 500 million euros.