Marchionne’s $232M reason to push for Fiat’s targets

Tommaso Ebhardt and Tom Metcalf
Bloomberg News

Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, has put his money where his mouth is.

The outspoken manager, who transformed the struggling former Italian conglomerate into a trio of companies worth about $24 billion, has most of his personal wealth tied up in shares of Fiat and former units CNH Industrial NV and Ferrari NV, at both of which he serves as chairman.

His total publicly disclosed holdings are worth $232 million as of Thursday’s closing prices, making him more invested in his employers than fellow auto bosses. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, has shares in the automakers worth about $49 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Mark Fields, CEO of Ford Motor Corp, has company stock worth about $12 million, while General Motor’s Mary Barra owns about $3.2 million in the Detroit carmaker.

While his fortune fell by almost $50 million this year as Fiat and Ferrari shares slumped amid doubts about his strategy, Marchionne, 63, doesn’t plan to retire until the end of 2018. That gives him time to show the companies are on the right track. His biggest challenge will be to achieve his target of turning Fiat’s 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) in net industrial debt into a cash pile of at least 4 billion euros. He will push that agenda at the Geneva International Motor Show next week, when Fiat displays new models including the Maserati Levante SUV, a refreshed version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback and the full lineup of the Giulia sedan, as well as two new Fiat models.

Marchionne has accumulated his holdings via stock option plans and grants at the Italian carmaker. He currently owns 14.6 million Fiat shares, his single biggest asset. He’s also one of Ferrari’s top 10 investors thanks to the 1.46 million shares he got as part of the spin-off of the supercar maker at the beginning of 2016.

Earlier this month, he was awarded 750,000 shares in truck and tractor maker CNH. He will receive an additional 1.5 million CNH shares by end of 2018 as part of the company’s compensation plan.

In his four-decade career, Marchionne has accumulated a fortune valued at more than $270 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which includes a special cash payment of $35 million last year as compensation for the Fiat-Chrysler merger. He will also receive a $12 million payout when he retires and is entitled to 4.32 million Fiat Chrysler shares if the carmaker meets its 2018 targets.