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Marchionne to be replaced by non-family member in Fiat succession

A family member will not take the helm of Fiat when existing professional chief executive Sergio Marchionne steps down in four years’ time, fifth-gen chairman John Elkann has told media.

The Italian family business head says the company will stick to its current arrangement of having a family member as chair, and a non-family member as chief executive.

Bloomberg reported this week that Marchionne would retire in 2018, having been at the helm of the automaker since 2004.

Fiat was near bankruptcy when Marchionne took over, but today is the seventh largest carmaker in the world, following this year’s merger with US carmaker Chrysler.

Marchionne plans to step down following the implementation of a five-year plan to ensure the smooth integration of the two companies.

Fiat bought its stake in Chrysler as it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, and it has seen sales increase nearly 50% since then.

In January, the company revealed it had signed a deal to buy the remaining stake in the company it did not already own, ending a dispute with Veba, associated with the United Auto Workers union, over the value of its 41.5% stake.

Veba had said its stake was worth $5 billion while Fiat argued it was half that amount. In the end the parties agreed to a $3.65 billion deal.

Elkann refused to be drawn on specific people who were contenders to replace Marchionne in the top job.

He has also says he wouldn’t consider selling his family’s shares in the company, but would dilute its stake if it was in the best interests of the business.

Exor, established by the Agnelli family in 1927 and chaired by Elkann, owns a 30% stake in Fiat.  

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