Automaker Fiat, which controls Chrysler LLC, announced Tuesday its chairman is stepping down, with Italian media reporting Agnelli family heir and Fiat vice chairman John Elkann will take the helm.
A brief Fiat SpA statement said Luca Cordero di Montezemolo will announce his resignation as chairman at a news conference at Turin headquarters later in the day.
Among media reporting that Elkann will take over is the Web site of La Stampa, the Turin daily which is part of the Agnelli dynasty. Fiat shares jumped 3.7 percent to euro9.89 in Milan trading on the report.
The family owns the controlling stake in Fiat, and Elkann's grandfather, Gianni Agnelli, ran the company for decades.
On Wednesday, Fiat also plans to present a five-year business plan — including new models and tighter integration with Chrysler LCC.
It had long been expected that the 34-year-old Elkann — who was appointed vice chairman in 2004, the year after his grandfather's death — would take a greater leadership role.
He has served on the board since December 1997, and his appointment as vice chairman followed the arrival of CEO Sergio Marchionne, who turned the company around after years of financial losses and who is now striving to make Fiat a global automaker producing 5.5 million to 6 million cars a year.
The deal to take an initial 20-percent stake in Chrysler last year was a key step, and the business plan Wednesday is expected to provide greater details on his strategy for the alliance.
Over the last half a decade, Elkann has been working closely with Montezemolo and other executives to learn the ropes, and keeps an office in the same wing of Fiat's headquarters in Turin as Marchionne and Montezemolo.
Born in New York City, Elkann has a degree in industrial engineering and management from the Polytechnic University in Turin, Italy. While at university, he also worked at companies in the Fiat Group in Britain, Poland and France, gaining experience in manufacturing, sales and marketing, according to an official biography posted on Fiat's Web site.
His first job after graduation was at General Electric as a member of the corporate audit staff, with assignments in Asia, the United States and Europe.
Elkann also heads the family's Exor holding company, through which the Agnelli heirs hold a controlling 30 percent stake in Fiat and other interests, including the Juventus soccer team and La Stampa.
Montezemolo has been Fiat chairman since 2004. He has also been chairman of Ferrari, which is majority owned by Fiat, since 1991 and was also its CEO until 2006. He previously served as chairman and CEO of Maserati, another Fiat brand, as well as president of Italy's industrial lobby Confindustria.
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