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"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone", said group chairman John Elkann, a member of the Agnelli family that controls the company.

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.

Altavilla pressed Elkann to give him the top job on July 20 when it became clear that Marchionne would not come back to work, three sources familiar with the situation said.

During his tenure at Fiat, Marchionne boosted the company's value more than 10-fold by restructuring the auto business and separating assets.

Tributes to the late Sergio Marchionne arrived from industry figures and politicians worldwide, praising his perseverance, hard negotiating skills and candor.

As Dustin Dwyer reports for NPR, "Fiat Chrysler repaid the billions of dollars in US government loans six years ahead of schedule and with interest".

Marchionne has done what many thought impossible, most notably his huge gamble just over a decade ago when he set in motion the marriage between the then-ailing Fiat with bankrupt U.S. rival Chrysler. At the time, the company had been hemorrhaging billions of dollars annually.

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His most quoted presentation to analysts, titled "Confessions of a Capital Junkie", argued that consolidation was inevitable in the investment-heavy vehicle industry.

-Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Co. However, Marchionne's goal of achieving a net cash position did occur as the traditionally black-sweater-wearing CEO predicted with his "wearing of the tie" to commemorate the moment during the global financial-plan event in Italy.

Fiat Chrysler is now led by new CEO Michael Manley, the former head of its Jeep division.

The CEO was known for his five-year plans, the most recent of which the automaker unveiled in June. He responded by expressing confidence in his hand-picked team that helped draft the targets. Around 80 percent of FCA's second-quarter profit came from the USA market and the automaker said its new trucks should help lift its North American pre-tax adjusted margin to 10 percent in the second half of 2018. Profitability in Europe is only now gradually recovering, and Alfa Romeo has yet to turn a profit despite multi-billion-euro investments.

His final public appearance was in Rome in June, two days before he went into hospital. Marchionne began his brief remarks noting that he grew up in a household where his father was a Carabinieri officer.

To his partner, Manuela, his wife Orlandina, and children, Alessio and Jonathan, Pitpass, on behalf of its readers offers its honest condolences.


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