Fiat shares rise after Ferrari boss quits

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Image caption Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has resigned as chairman of Ferrari

Shares in Italian carmaker Fiat have risen after Luca Cordero di Montezemolo resigned as the chairman of its Ferrari division.

He will be replaced after 23 years by Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne.

The stock gained 2.7% to 7.91 euros in afternoon trading in Milan following the announcement.

Mr Montezemolo's departure had been expected after Mr Marchionne said that Ferrari's poor Formula 1 performance this season was "unacceptable".

The Fiat boss also wanted Ferrari to be more closely integrated into the company and increase annual sales to about 10,000 cars.

However, Mr Montezemolo, 67, who began his career as an assistant to founder Enzo Ferrari, wanted to maintain the division's independence and exclusivity by limiting sales to about 7,000 a year.

He said on Wednesday that Ferrari was "the most wonderful company in the world".

He added: "It has been a great privilege and honour to have been its leader. I devoted all of my enthusiasm and commitment to it over the years. Together with my family, it was, and continues to be, the most important thing in my life."

While Ferrari would continue to play an important role in the newly merged Fiat Chrysler group, Mr Montezemolo said it would mark a "new and different phase" that he believed should be headed by the chief executive of the group.

"This is the end of an era," he added.

Ferrari dominated Formula 1 in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher led the team to six consecutive constructors' championships.

The team has failed to win a constructors' title since 2008 and last won the driver's title the previous year, when Kimi Raikkonen was the champion.

Formula 1 woes

Mr Marchionne said on Sunday it was "absolutely non-negotiable" that Ferrari, which is suffering its worst season for two decades, should win Formula 1 races.

Mr Montezemolo will step down on 13 October, after celebrations to mark 60 years of selling cars in the US and three days before Fiat-Chrysler lists on the New York Stock Exchange.

He stepped down as Fiat chairman in 2010 after six years, handing over to John Elkann, a grandson of Gianni Agnelli, whose family owns almost a third of Fiat.

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Image caption Luca Cordero di Montezemolo presented the new Ferrari California T at the Geneva Motor Show in March

The high-profile Mr Montezemolo remains vice-president of UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank by assets, and is a former chairman of Confindustria, Italy's business lobby group.

Despite Ferrari accounting for a fraction of the 4.4 million vehicles sold annually by Fiat-Chrysler, the six-figure price tags for its cars mean that the division brought in 12% of operating profit.

Ferrari's net profit rose 5.4% to 246m euros last year after selling 6,922 cars, a third of them in the US.

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