The untimely demise of Sergio Marchionne at age 66 on Wednesday has left many people in shock, and it looks like his colleagues at the FCA Group were among the most surprised.
Apparently, no one from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles knew about the executive’s serious illness, even though Marchionne was been treated for more than a year before passing away.
According to a statement from the University Hospital Zurich cited by Automotive News Europe, the former executive “had been the recipient of recurring treatment for more than a year.” Unfortunately, although “all the options offered by cutting-edge medicine” were utilized, Marchionne lost the battle with the disease.
A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles spokesman said the company had no knowledge about its CEO’s medical condition “due to medical privacy.” While that’s completely understandable, one cannot help but wonder whether FCA Group’s board of directors and shareholders should have been informed about the health condition of the company’s brilliant CEO. The only one who could have legally done it was himself, though, but he chose not to.
All signs lead to Marchionne insisting no one had to know about his health problems, which is probably why the Italian-Canadian carried on with his schedule as usual. As we learn from an earlier Corriere della Sera report quoting the father of Marchionne’s partner Manuela Battezzato, “his physique had dried out and he was tired and breathed with a lot of effort.”
Yet the executive was always on the move, traveling from one part of the world to another. “He has always worked and has never given up in the face of his commitments,” Pier Luigi Battezzato said. Before the shoulder surgery that led to complications and, eventually, his death, Marchionne “had even set up a meeting that was to take place these days,” Battezzato added. His last public appearance was in Italy on June 26, when he attended the handover of a Jeep Wrangler JK to the Carabinieri.
The board is now facing questions as to why no one knew about Marchionne’s severe health problems. As it turns out, the executive’s family only informed FCA about the serious deterioration in his condition on July 20. It was then when they notified the company he wouldn’t return to work, prompting FCA to release a statement announcing the appointment of Mike Manley as acting CEO.