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Sergio Marchionne dies, the man who saved Fiat

The CEO had been relieved of the company's address last week by illness

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Sergio Marchionne dies, the man who saved Fiat

In 2004 Fiat lost two million euros a day and its shares cost 1.60 euros. His situation was so baleful that General Motors disbursed 1.5 billion not to buy it. In 2018 it is expected to close year with 4 billion of liquidity in box, that its income reaches 125 billion and its securities have already reached 16.4 euros. In midst of this stony road was made with jewel of American crown: Chrysler of Detroit and became one of biggest giants of car. What happened to Italian company between those two points has its own name: Sergio Marchionne.

The man who gave Fiat an inexhaustible engine that also worked at night — between voracious negotiations — at dawn and when it was needed; and a constant machine of ideas when I needed it most. "In worst of my nightmares I would have imagined something like this," he joked a couple of months ago, when he presented results for first quarter of this year. His is a singular story, which is in antipodes of stereotype, based on a capacity of management and inventiveness out of ordinary. It was one of those minds of which no longer abound and marked a turning point in Italian economy. He also embodied a consensus figure that fell in love with both left and right, that se days have gone with him.

When he landed as Fiat's CEO in Turin by Umberto Agnelli, 14 years ago, everyone welcomed him with skepticism. He did not have experience or training necessary for a sector as particular as that of automobile. He was a stranger guiding a dying giant, on brink of bankruptcy and whose survival depended on borrowing from banks. Without a change of route, company would have ended up in hands of creditors.

In a few weeks he got air renewed. He changed suit and tie for his iconic blue sweater and got to work. "Fiat will get it. I promise that I will work hard, without polemics or political interests, "he said when he took office. Since n he only closed two exercises in red: That same year and 2009. In total, it leaves more than 15 billion euros of accumulated profits.

Cemented its management in two key movements. The first was divorce with General Motors. With a skillful maneuver knew to take advantage of weakness of Italian company: "If you stay with Fiat, you stay with debts", put n on table. He had spent night poring over accounts of American giant, who finally gave in and disbursed 2 billion dollars to break alliance that had been signed in year 2000. With that entry of capital Marchionne began to refloat company. The second step was to defuse threat of banks that in 2005 had begun to demand that debts be transformed into actions to be able to sell to or brands.

But you will be remembered above all for being man who bought flagship of American industry, Chrysler. It was 2007, crisis began to undermine economies on both sides of Atlantic and no one would have bet that Fiat would accomplish feat. But fearless general ' — as he was nicknamed by his leadership capacity — first persuaded administration of Barack Obama, n unions and finally banks. The agreement that sealed birth of FCA group (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) was signed at five in morning. It is a sign of tenacity and determination that all attribute to Marchionne.

Under his baton group multiplied by eight its capitalization and moved from skin on several occasions to adapt to a changing market. Fiat stopped making cars only for popular classes and developed models for elites, which placed m in a position to compete with high-end German vehicles. One of his last instructions was an impulse to electrification, in front of which was initially reticent, with an investment of 9 billion euros to adapt ir models in all brands.

His hard hand also took him on several occasions to engaging in important battles on several fronts, with trade unions of sector and with industrial employer (Confindustria), which left clamorously after years of hostility.

In 2014 he also stood at forefront of Ferrari, who under guidance of his predecessor Luca Cordero di Montezemolo had become a stagnant corporation and a Formula 1 racing team in permanent crisis. With Marchionne he became banner of Agnelli family and created a separate Fiat company that is listed on stock exchange, after recovering 90 percent of shares that depended on banks and investors. In first quarter of 2018 profits increased by 19.4% over same period of previous year.

It bequeaths a completely new Fiat galaxy, not only in its geographical distribution, also in culture, in mode of work and in its profile of profitability. It doesn't leave a script for future. "FCA is a set of cultures and managers born of every adversity," he said. But it is a warning: "We must avoid being arrogant. Success is never permanent but must be earn day by day. "

He was born in Chieti, in Abruzzo region 66 years ago, within a family fleeing ideological and ethnic persecutions of World War II. He experienced in first person difficulties of immigration before reaching top of international finance. He spent his life between Italy, Istria, United States and Canada, where he graduated in philosophy and later in economics and law.

Also known for his strong personality, he carried out his work practically in total solitude. Few of collaborators stayed at his side in se 14 years. "Leadership is not anarchy. The boss is alone, "he said on one occasion during an interview.

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