In the past three days, Fiat has seen the death of its chairman, Umberto Agnelli, and the shock resignation of its chief executive after Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo was promoted to the Italian group's top position.

In the past three days, Fiat has seen the death of its chairman, Umberto Agnelli, and the shock resignation of its chief executive after Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo was promoted to the Italian group's top position.


The chain of events was set in motion by the death on Friday of Umberto Agnelli, the last senior manager from Fiat's founding family and a strong supporter of a plan the group’s chief executive Giuseppe Morchio drew up to pull Italy's biggest industrial group out of a deep crisis.


Fiat said it would pick a new chief executive on Tuesday, its fifth in two years. It was speculated that Fiat could pick a new leader from within - either Paolo Monferino, head of Fiat's tractor and bulldozer arm CNH Global, or former Ford Europe chief executive Martin Leach, who recently arrived at Fiat's luxury Maserati brand.


The shock reshuffle of Fiat's top management puts an end to the era of stability that Agnelli and Morchio brought when they arrived in February 2003. The pair put together a recovery plan, firmly focusing on Fiat's core automotive business and putting an end to a period where one head after another rolled for letting the 105-year-old giant tumble deep into loss.


All that changed on Sunday when Luca di Montezemolo, the flamboyant head of Ferrari and a close friend of the Agnelli family, was named Umberto's successor as chairman.


"My decision (to resign) was based on the change in conditions caused by the choices made by the board today," Morchio said on Sunday. "I regret I am no longer able to be part of the group's recovery plan, which I have always believed will pull the group out of crisis and which is showing its first results".


Investors had welcomed Morchio as the first outsider to be given free rein at a company traditionally run by the Agnellis and their long-time employees, almost all of them Italian.


Morchio's replacement will have to get down to business fast as a deadline looms for Fiat to settle a spat with GM over whether the US company could have to buy the rest of Fiat Auto and as talks with banks, to which Fiat owes R24 billion, continue.


Montezemolo worked under Morchio as the head of Fiat's luxury Ferrari-Maserati unit but sources in Turin said the two men's characters were "too big to share the same stage".


Some Fiat watchers had wondered if the Agnellis, once seen as Italy's uncrowned royal family, would lose their ties with Fiat after Umberto's death - 15 months after his brother, the flamboyant Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli, died.


But the Agnellis, who control Fiat with a 30 percent stake, named two more members of the family to the board including Umberto's son, Andrea, and promoted Gianni's 28-year-old grandson and heir, John Elkann, to the post of vice-president.


”The Agnellis are not finished...We have never thought of abdicating our role and our responsibilities," one of Umberto's four sisters, Maria Sole, told la Repubblica on Monday.

Original article from Car