UPDATE 1-FCA's Manley to head Stellantis' key American operations

(Adds confirmation from Elkann’s letter)

MILAN, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Mike Manley will head the American operations of Stellantis, the group to be created from the merger between the Italian-American automaker and France’s Peugeot, FCA Chairman John Elkann said on Friday.

Stellantis’ American operations will include Brazil and Argentina, besides the U.S. and Canada where strong sales of trucks and SUVs currently make up the lion’s share of FCA profits.

Manley used to head the highly profitable Jeep and RAM brands before becoming FCA’s CEO.

“Mike will be asked to take up the role of Head of Americas, working alongside Carlos (Tavares) and continuing to bring his great experience, energy and drive to making Stellantis the extraordinary company we know it will be,” Elkann said in a letter to FCA employees.

In the letter Elkann, who is set to become Stellantis’ Chairman, praised Manley’s job at FCA, from his appointment as CEO in 2018 after the sudden death of former boss Sergio Marchionne through to the merger process with PSA, which is expected to be finalised at the beginning of next year.

“The fact that as FCA we are entering this new and exciting era in such very strong, robust shape is a great tribute to him and his leadership style,” Elkann said.

Stellantis will be headed by current PSA CEO Carlos Tavares, but Manley in September said his role in the new group would have been disclosed by year-end. (Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)