Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is expected on Saturday to name a successor to its chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, who will step down early as a result of complications from recent shoulder surgery, a person familiar with the matter said.
One of the most high-profile and outspoken chief executives in the global auto industry, Mr. Marchionne, 66, has headed Fiat since 2004 and masterminded its acquisition of Chrysler after the American carmaker’s government-led bankruptcy in 2009. He was scheduled to retire in 2019, although the company has not yet named a successor.
Mr. Marchionne also serves as the chief executive of Ferrari, the luxury sports car manufacturer that was once part of Fiat. The boards of Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari are meeting in Italy on Saturday to choose new chief executives, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the change has not yet been officially announced.
News of Mr. Marchionne’s unexpected departure was first reported by Bloomberg.
Born in Italy and raised in Canada, Mr. Marchionne studied accounting and law and was running a Swiss trading firm when the Agnelli family called on him to turn around Fiat. He became known as a chain-smoking taskmaster who often worked seven days a week, and eventually took to wearing nothing but black jeans and black sweaters.
In recent years he has tried to pair up Fiat Chrysler with a partner. In 2015, he publicly proposed a merger with General Motors but was rebuffed. He’s also explored the possibility of aligning with a Chinese automaker.
Under his guidance, Fiat Chrysler has posted regular profits, thanks to the Chrysler half of the company, and rising sales of high-margin Jeeps around the world and Ram trucks in the United States. Bids to reintroduce the Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands into the American market have been regarded as flops.