Marchionne said to have died of cardiac arrest

- The news agency ANSA is reporting that the cause of death of Fiat Chrysler automobile's founding CEO, Sergio Marchionne, was cardiac arrest. 

ANSA reported Wednesday that Marchionne suffered cardiac arrest while recovering from surgery to his right shoulder in a Zurich hospital, which landed him in intensive care, where he later suffered a second, fatal cardiac arrest. It did not give the timing of any of the cardiac events. 

"We are certainly going to remember Sergio Marchionne as the guy who saved two companies, and, in short order," says Paul Eisenstein, an auto analyst at TheDetroitBureau.com. 

Marchionne, who was Italian and Canadian, came to the rescue of Fiat in 2004 and then later Chrysler as it was about to go under. In 2009 he was picked by the U.S. government to save Chrysler from its trip through bankruptcy protection after being owned by a private equity company. 

Under his direction and guidance, the automaker became debt free and was considered a profitable company once again. Last year, it sold more than 2 million vehicles in the United States alone. That is double the business the automaker did back in 2009, when it was first emerging from bankruptcy.

The chairman of FCA, John Elkann, released this statement:

"The best way to honor Marchionne's memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent of champions."

Michigan governor Rick Snyder called Marchionne an "outstanding businessman, leader and a friend to all of us in Michigan" in a statement, and added he has fond memories of meeting Marchionne many times, both in Michigan and overseas. 

General Motors CEO Mary Barra, whom Marchionne tried unsuccessfully to persuade to enter into a merger, sent condolences to his family, friends and Fiat Chrysler colleagues and praised his "remarkable legacy in the automotive industry." 

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford called Marchionne "one of the most respected leaders in the industry whose creativity and bold determination helped to restore Chrysler to financial health and grow Fiat Chrysler into a profitable global automaker." 

Marchionne had originally planned to step down from his CEO position in 2019 but because of his deteoroting health that happened over the weekend, just a couple days prior to his death. The FCA board on Saturday named long-time Jeep executive Mike Manley as CEO, unexpectedly accelerating the transition that was planned for early next year.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report 

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