After weeks of speculation, Fiat confirmed today that its CEO, Sergio Marchionne, will assume the same role with Chrysler once it exits bankruptcy. According to statements from the Obama administration, Chrysler could emerge from "surgical bankruptcy" in as little as 30 to 60 days, after which Chrysler's current chief executive Bob Nardelli will step down and Marchionne will step in.

A dual Canadian and Italian citizen, the Ontario-educated Marchionne is credited with turning the Fiat Group around from a money-losing enterprise into one of the largest and most successful automakers in the industry. After taking over the helm at Fiat five years ago, Marchionne said he would need to double its sales to 5.5 million units annually in order to make the company financially viable. His vision for separating Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo out of their parent company and into a new auto group together with Chrysler (and potentially with GM's European and Latin American assets) would make it the second-largest automaker in the world, with 6 million cars produced annually. The bulk of the debts, however, would remain with the shells of their former organizations, leaving the new one unencumbered and free to regroup. There's no further news at this point as to when Chrysler will emerge from its Chapter 11 proceedings, allowing Marchionne to step in, or how the reported Treasury Dept. regulations will affect Marchionne's salary, but we can expect to hear plenty more on this highly-rated executive and his vision for reshaping the auto industry in the very near future.

[Source: The Detroit News | Image: Giuseppe Cacace/Getty]

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