Marchionne named Ferrari’s new CEO

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Ferrari NV on Monday named Sergio Marchionne CEO of the famed Italian sports car maker, while retaining his position as chairman.

Marchionne, also CEO of Ferrari’s former parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, replaces Amedeo Felisa, who is retiring after 26 years at Ferrari. Felisa will retain a Ferrari board seat.

“I have known Amedeo for more than a decade and I have had the opportunity to work with him closely for the last two years,” Marchionne said in a statement. “He is beyond any doubt one of the best automotive engineers in the world.”

Felisa joined Ferrari from Italian automaker Alfa Romeo in 1990. He was named Ferrari general manager in 2006, and CEO in 2008.

Marchionne said investors should not expect any changes from Ferrari’s plans prior to the company’s initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange last fall.

“I remain as bullish on the prospects of this company as I was when I presented Ferrari to the markets,” he said Monday during a call with financial analysts and news media. “I remain even more so convinced of its upward potential ... we’re beginning just now to define the true potential on the passenger car side of what this house can actually deliver.”

Marchionne last year laid out a plan to turn the carmaker into a luxury lifestyle brand that would compete with the likes of Prada.

Leading Ferrari adds to an unusually long list of positions held by Marchionne. Aside from his positions with Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler, Marchionne is vice chairman of Exor SpA, the investment firm of the Agnelli family that controls the carmakers; chairman of truck and tractor manufacturer CNH Industrial NV; and chairman of product-testing company SGS SA. He also is an independent director at cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris International Inc.

The move was announced as Ferrari posted its best first-quarter earnings ever, a 19 percent increase in net profit to 78 million euros ($89.5 million). That compares with 65 million euros in the same period last year.

“We have, as expected, delivered an incredibly strong quarter,” Marchionne said. “The order books remain incredibly strong.”

The Maranello, Italy-based carmaker said shipments for the three months ending March 31 grew 15 percent to 1,882 cars.

Revenues were up 8.8 percent to 675 million euros.

Ferrari revised all of its outlooks for the year: Shipments to more than 7,900 from about that amount; net revenue to about 3 billion euros, up from more than 2.9 million euros; adjusted earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization to more than 800 million euros, up from 770 million euros. It also decreased net industrial debt from 750 million euros to 730 million euros or less.

Marchionne said his “immediate objective” is to get Ferrari to create 1 billion euros for earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization “as quickly as we can.”

Ferrari shares on the New York Stock Exchange at 1:15 p.m. Monday were down 2.7 percent to $44.60 per share — below the stock’s $52 initial public offering price on the exchange last fall.

Ferrari was spun off Fiat Chrysler into a standalone company in January.

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