(Changes “chairman” to “CEO” in penultimate paragraph; repeats to additional subscribers)
MILAN, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Luca Cordero di Montezemolo will step down as chairman of Ferrari as of Oct. 13 and will be replaced by Sergio Marchionne, who also serves as the chief executive of parent group Fiat.
The departure of Montezemolo, announced by Fiat on Wednesday, was widely expected after escalating clashes between the two executives over strategy and the role of the luxury sports car business within the Fiat group.
Fiat shares were up 2.4 percent by 0721 GMT, against a 0.1 percent fall for Milan’s blue-chip index.
Montezemolo, Ferrari’s chairman since 1991, has been wanting to keep Ferrari autonomous, while Marchionne has been pushing to better integrate the business within Fiat to boost the group’s move into the premium end of the car market as it seeks to rival the likes of Volkswagen and BMW.
The Oct. 13 resignation date coincides with the day when Fiat, which owns 90 percent of Ferrari, plans to list Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in New York after completing a merger with its U.S. business and cementing a shift of the Italian group from its home for the past 115 years.
“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,” Montezemolo said in a separate statement.
Marchionne said that he and Montezemolo had discussed the future of Ferrari at length and that “our mutual desire to see Ferrari achieve its true potential on the (Formula One racing) track has led to misunderstandings, which became clearly visible over the last weekend”.
The Fiat CEO said on Sunday that the recent disappointing performance of Ferrari’s Formula One racing team was “unacceptable” and that it was “absolutely non-negotiable” that Ferrari should win Formula One races
Under Montezemolo’s more than two decade-long tenure, Ferrari raced to the top of the Formula One grid, increased revenues tenfold and tripled sales volumes as the Italian family business grew into one of the world’s most powerful brands. (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by David Goodman)