Sergio Marchionne, who died in Zurich on Tuesday at the age of 66, was best known for turning around Italian carmaker Fiat and overseeing its merger with Chrysler. But he also had a long association with Switzerland both in his professional and personal life.
Marchionne died at the University Hospital of Zurich following complications from shoulder surgery. The Italian-Canadian businessman had a residence in Schindellegi, a village above Lake Zurich, although he spent a lot of his time in the Italian city of Turin overseeing his automobile empire.
His surviving wife and children continue to live in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, according to the Swiss News Agency.
Marchionne’s career in Swiss business circles saw him take the helm of industrial concern AluSuisse in the late 1990s. He then transferred to the Basel-based Lonza as chief executive and later as chairman, when the chemical maker split off from the AluSuisse group.
When he became CEO of Fiat in 2004, Marchionne already held the same position at Geneva-based SGS, one of the world’s largest goods inspection companies. The move to Fiat was seen as a blow to SGS, but Marchionne later became chairman at the inspection outfit until being replaced days before his death as ill health prevented him from carrying out his duties.
Despite this demanding work load, Marchionne found time to join the board of directors at Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, as it went through one of its most traumatic chapters. Joining the board in 2007 and becoming vice-chairman a year later, Marchionne saw the bank ravaged by the financial crisis and then a tax evasion row with the United States. He stood down from UBS in 2010.