It emerged that Marchionne's successor was far from settled. He was replaced as boss last weekend after his condition worsened. Marchionne turned the company around, even making Fiat's 2009 acquisition of Detroit carmaker Chrysler a success, debuting the joint Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in October 2014. It also claims that Marchionne is now being kept alive only by machines, and that doctors said there was no hope of recovery.

Fiat pushed that change on Chrysler - and everyone benefited, he said. Manley could not immediately be reached for comment.

Born in Italy, Marchionne attended high school and college in Canada, where his family emigrated when he was 14.

Manley said: "This is a very sad and hard time". "We are never going to see anyone like you again". He went on to say that the company's board would not engage in a "rubber stamp process".

"My view is Marchionne and Elkann were still arguing about succession and had different views on the right candidate", Sanford Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said in a note on Monday, referring to the 1 June presentation.

"Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone", FCA chairperson John Elkann said in a statement.

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Marchionne joined Fiat in 2004 and led the Turin-based company's merger with bankrupt US carmaker Chrysler.

In his roles with both Fiat Chrysler and Ferrari, he was never far from controversy, and never shirked from the fight that might follow.

The formidable auto industry executive was responsible for the turnaround of Chrysler in 2009 when the United States carmaker emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection having received emergency funds from the U.S. government. And many of us have lost a very dear friend: "Sergio Marchionne". That ultimate deal eluded him.

Marchionne is credited with revamping the company, Italy's premier private enterprise, from top to bottom. He could parry questions from the Italian press in one press conference, and deliver sly put-downs of his rivals in English during the next.

Marchionne suffered an embolism while undergoing an operation for an invasive shoulder sarcoma and suffered irreversible damage to his brain function, an Italian business website reported Tuesday. Trained as a lawyer and an accountant, he worked first in finance and as a tax consultant before he was plucked from a Swiss trading firm to work at Fiat. The company's new chief officer was the former head of the Ram and Jeep brands, two of FCA's most profitable and valuable product lines. In other words, Marchionne is a legend.