Fiat Chrysler’s Sergio Marchionne dies after complictions from surgery

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It emerged that Marchionne's successor was far from settled.

The plainspoken, sweatered CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pulled few punches in public-and fewer in private.

Under Marchionne, Fiat bought Chrysler out of bankruptcy in 2009 and the two automakers combined operations.

In 2004, he was appointed CEO of Fiat SpA and over the next decade took the Italian manufacturer from near extinction to the New York Stock Exchange, Fiat having bought the equally underperforming Chrysler to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In doing so, Marchionne helped FCA pay off its debts.

The company has portrayed Manley's appointment as the product of lengthy deliberation.

"Sergio was a unique and special man who is going to be sorely missed", Manley says, noting Marchionne's values of "transparency, delivery and, most importantly, respect".

Elkann's office declined to comment. He represented the best of Italy.

Marchionne said that he and Elkann "from time to time have these chats" about succession, but the issue would not be decided until next year.

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FCA said it has fixed-price contracts for most raw steel through 2018, but would see increases in 2019 at current prices.

Some analysts have also expressed scepticism that a final decision had been made.

Marchionne was credited with returning Ferrari to one of the leading teams in motorsport and Formula One chairman and CEO Chase Carey described him as "both a leader and a friend".

The auto industry has lost one of its strongest protagonists for mergers and acquisitions at a time when strategic alliances with technology companies are increasingly supplanting transformational mergers between traditional carmakers.

As an outsider, Marchionne was unfettered by local loyalties and he set about cutting jobs and expenses, slimming management ranks and increasing shareholder value along the way.

"For Altavilla it was too important - he wants to be CEO at least once in his career", one of the sources said.

He was replaced four days ago when his health worsened following complications from surgery on his right shoulder.

"We had our differences. but together we challenged the lazy little Italy that prefers to close factories rather than roll up their sleeves", said Marco Bentivoglio, general secretary of the CISL union's metalworkers branch, on hearing about Marchionne's illness. That included getting GM to pay $2 billion to sever ties with Fiat, key to relaunching the long-struggling Italian carmaker, and the deal with the USA government to take Chrysler without a penny down in exchange for Fiat's small-car technology. But in a 2012 interview with Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes" Marchionne revealed his passion for driving fast cars, and lamented that Fiat Chrysler limited his driving Ferraris to closed tracks.