FCA's CEO Marchionne replaced immediately due to serious health issues

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FCA has made Mike Manley the CEO of FCA with the sudden and unexpected news of a health crisis for Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne. However, health issues have seen him replaced by FCA chairman Elkann.

Marchionne helped navigate FCA through bankruptcy during his 14-year tenure and turn the company's finances back from the brink of collapse.

Fiat Chrysler president John Elkann said in a letter to employees, "It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that our CEO Sergio Marchionne, who recently underwent surgery, unfortunately experienced complications that have worsened in recent hours and will prevent his return to FCA".

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Marchionne had been absent from day-to-day activities at FCA for weeks.

The automaker announced Saturday that Mike Manley, formerly head of the Jeep and Ram brands, will take over as CEO effective immediately, according to a report on detnews.com.

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Marchionne had been set to retire in April 2019. He took the driver's seat at Jeep in June 2009 at a time when the United States motor industry in general was battling huge headwinds whipped up by the global financial crisis the previous year. Already, the Jeep and Ram vehicles he oversaw were responsible for 67 percent of total US volume in 2017, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

"The succession plans we have just announced, even if not without pain from a personal point of view, mean we can guarantee the maximum possible continuity, preserving our companies' unique cultures". The board will therefore propose to the next shareholder meeting, to be called in the coming days, that he be elected to the board and serve as an executive director of the company.

With the acquisition of Chrysler in 2014, completing a five-year process, he placed Fiat on the global stage. CNH Industrial, the maker of Iveco trucks and Case and New Holland farm equipment, named as its chairman Suzanne Heywood, managing director of Exor, the holding company of Fiat's founding Agnelli family.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and Alfredo Altavilla Chief Operating Officer EMEA pose next to the new Alfa Romeo auto Giulia during an event at an FCA plant in Cassino, southern Italy, November 24, 2016.

Elkann, the 42-year-old heir to the Agnelli family that founded the Italian carmaker Fiat in 1899, remembered Marchionne's arrival in 2004 at "one of the darkest moments" for the long-struggling company. Marchionne's FCA managed to keep Dodge afloat by positioning it as a uniquely American performance brand.