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Montezemolo quits Ferrari Marchionne to become chairman

Montezemolo quits Ferrari Marchionne to become chairman

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo will step down as chairman of Ferrari as of Oct. 13 and will be replaced by Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, Fiat said in a statement.

The departure of Montezemolo, 67, was widely expected after escalating clashes between the two executives over strategy and the role of Ferrari within the Fiat group.

Ferrari is a key component of Marchionne’s plans to expand in luxury cars to better compete with Volkswagen, which owns Lamborghini among its stable of high-end nameplates.

Montezemolo wanted to maintain Ferrari’s autonomous status and limit sales to about 7,000 cars a year to preserve the brand’s exclusive allure. That clashed with Marchionne’s goal of having Ferrari bolster a shift by Fiat into upscale cars as part of its merger with Chrysler Group.

The Oct. 13 resignation date coincides with the day when Fiat plans to list Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in New York after completing a merger with its U.S. business and cementing a shift of the Italian group from its home for the past 115 years.

“Ferrari will have an important role to play within the FCA Group in the upcoming flotation on Wall Street. This will open up a new and different phase, which I feel should be spearheaded by the CEO of the Group,” Montezemolo said in a separate statement.

Marchionne said that he and Montezemolo had discussed the future of Ferrari at length and that “our mutual desire to see Ferrari achieve its true potential on the [Formula One] track has led to misunderstandings, which became clearly visible over the last weekend.”

Marchionne said on Sunday that the recent disappointing performance of Ferrari’s F1 team was “unacceptable” and that it was “absolutely non-negotiable” that Ferrari should win F1 races

Under Montezemolo’s tenure, Ferrari raced to the top of the F1 standings, increased revenues tenfold and tripled sales volumes as the Italian family business grew into one of the world’s most powerful brands.

Montezemolo is reported to be unhappy at having Ferrari integrated into Fiat Chrysler. “Ferrari is now American,” which represents “the end of an era,” Montezemolo told close associates last weekend, Il Corriere della Sera reported Sept. 8. Italian newspapers including Il Messaggero reported in the last few weeks that he might be tapped to head Italian airline Alitalia

Montezemolo served 23 years at the helm of Ferrari, which is 90 percent-owned by Fiat. He was also Fiat Group chairman from 2004 to 2010. Montezemolo wasn’t appointed to the new board of the merged entity, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.