Your eyes doth not deceive you: Fiat has a new CEO. But before we get ahead of ourselves, Sergio Marchionne isn't going anywhere. The Italian-Canadian executive mastermind directing both the Fiat and Chrysler groups is not relinquishing his position. But a number of years ago, he did hand over control of the Fiat brand to a subordinate. That position has changed hands a couple of times since then, and has now been handed over to a new talent.
Maserati has undergone repeated change-ups in its senior management over the past couple of years, both in Modena, where the automaker is based, and in New Jersey, seat of its North American headquarters. In it's latest announcement, the company's North American chief executive has been named as commercial director for the parent company as well.
With the unification of Fiat and Chrysler, we're been expecting major changes in the corporate structure of the two automakers and their various brands. Most recently, Lancia chief executive Olivier Francois was named head of the Chrysler division, leading to reports that the two brands – similarly positioned in the sub-luxury premium segment – will be integrated into one unit. Now similar reports place the Abarth, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands under common leadership.
Things could hardly have played out worse for Honda. It has poured what surely amounted to billions of dollars for years into its Formula One team with little effect. Then it brought in Ross Brawn, only to withdrew its support from the squad, then it sold the entire operation to Brawn while paying out big bucks to avoid an even bigger severance bill. And only then did Brawn turn the F1 team into a winner. That'd be enough to send some automakers scurrying to get back in the game, but not Honda.
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.
The next chief executive of Chrysler will be tasked with bringing the company out of bankruptcy, restructuring into a profitable business, repaying government loans (if and when they do so at all), integrating Fiat technology and retaining jobs wherever possible. Oh, and he or she will have to do it all on no more than $500,000 a year. This according to the latest reports, based on new Treasury Department regulations.
If you were surprised by the "resignation" of GM chief Rick Wagoner late last month, get used to the idea. Chrysler reportedly has some major management changes in store as well, including a new seven-member executive board including representatives from Fiat and the Obama administration's automotive task force. But while Bob Nardelli may stay on to chair that board, Chrysler's next CEO may not even be American. Sources close to the ongoing negotiations between Chrysler LLC and the Fiat Group su