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Sergio Marchionne, the CEO who Saved Fiat and Chrysler, Dies at 66

(CNNMONEY) - Auto legend Sergio Marchionne, the charismatic executive who turned Fiat and Chrysler around before combining the companies as a profitable business, died Wednesday. He was 66.

"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone," John Elkann, a member of Fiat's founding Agnelli family, said in a statement.

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) (FCA) had announced Marchionne's abrupt resignation as CEO on Saturday, citing "unexpected complications" while he was recovering from surgery. Marchionne was also chief executive of Ferrari, and both FCA and Ferrari announced successors who took immediate control of the companies.

Over a long career, Marchionne left an indelible mark on the industry. He was the CEO of Fiat when it bought Chrysler out of bankruptcy in 2009 following a US government bailout. The companies merged about four years ago.

He was known for his witty comments, fearless decision making, trademark black sweaters and an aversion to neckties.

At a conference in 2013, as Fiat and Chrysler began churning out more vehicle models, he told the press: "I've got all my production start dates tattooed in private parts, and I can tell you it's getting crowded."

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