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Luca di Montezemolo Resigns as Ferrari Chairman

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/10/2014 Jake Holmes

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo announced today that he will resign effective October 13. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne will replace di Montezemolo as head of Ferrari. Luca di Montezemolo's decision apparently stems from disagreements over the future direction of Ferrari and its parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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The date of di Montezemolo's official resignation coincides with the day that Marchionne hopes to list Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) publicly on the New York stock exchange. In a statement, di Montezemolo said the decision to take FCA public was a large factor in his decision.

"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," he said in a statement.

ferrari-president-luca-di-montezemolo-and-f12-berlinetta© Provided by MotorTrend ferrari-president-luca-di-montezemolo-and-f12-berlinetta Marchionne likewise said that the two executives were butting heads over the future of the Italian exotic car company. "Luca and I have discussed the future of Ferrari at length. And our mutual desire to see Ferrari achieve its true potential on the track has led to misunderstandings which became clearly visible over the last weekend," he said in a statement.

The dispute is believed to stem from conflicts over whether Ferrari should remain a low-volume, exclusive car manufacturer -- the company now deliberately limits annual sales to maintain exclusivity -- or whether it would grow as part of the FCA empire under Marchionne. Last weekend, reports from Italy cited by Automotive News quoted di Montezemolo as complaining that, "Ferrari is now American… the end of an era." At the same time, Marchionne told reporters in response to the Ferrari Formula 1 team's disappointing performance this year, "Nobody is indispensable. Nobody should ever get it through their head that you could threaten or suggest that the house should be in trouble [if they leave]."

In recent years, di Montezemolo had been quick to downplay rumors that Ferrari might expand or launch its own IPO. In response to rumors of a $6.4 billion stock offering, for instance, he told reporters in March 2012, "No, there is nothing on the agenda. And we are not planning anything. Fiat does not need any money at the moment, they are doing fine."

Luca di Montezemolo became president of Ferrari in 1991, and led both the road car and Formula 1 divisions to repeated successes. He was also chairman of Fiat from 2004 to 2010, and held several other high-ranking positions in Ferrari and Fiat over the past decades.

"Ferrari is the most wonderful company in the world. It has been a great privilege and honor to have been its leader. I devoted all of my enthusiasm and commitment to it over the years," he said in a statement.

A Ferrari spokesperson confirmed this morning that di Montezemolo will attend an event celebrating Ferrari's 60th anniversary in the U.S. market that takes place in Beverley Hills, CA, on October 12. She also said di Montezemolo is still expected to attend the upcoming 2014 Paris auto show before his resignation.

Sources: Ferrari, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo© Provided by MotorTrend Luca Cordero di Montezemolo
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