BREAKING NEWS: Former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne dies

Sergio Marchionne, former CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dies at age 66.{ } { }(FCA Media)

Sergio Marchionne, who engineered turnarounds to save both Fiat and Chrysler from near-certain failure, has died.

The holding company of the Agnelli family, which founded Fiat, confirmed Wednesday that Marchionne, 66, had died.

“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone," said John Elkann, who chairs the board that overseas FCA. "I believe that the best way to honor his memory is to build on the legacy he left us, continuing to develop the human values of responsibility and openness of which he was the most ardent champion.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder also expressed sadness after learning of Machionne's passing. “We often joked about how we were just two accountants who started our careers across the Detroit River from each other - Sergio in Windsor and me in Detroit," said Snyder. "The many times we met, both in Michigan and overseas, will always provide me with fond memories of this outstanding businessman, leader, and friend to all of us in Michigan.”

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra offered condolences to Marchionne's family and friends. "Sergio created a remarkable legacy in the automotive industry," said Barra. " Our thoughts are also with our industry colleagues at Fiat Chrysler as they deal with this sudden loss."

“Sergio Marchionne was one of the most respected leaders in the industry whose creativity and bold determination helped to restore Chrysler to financial health and grow Fiat Chrysler into a profitable global automaker," said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. " His extraordinary leadership, candor and passion for the industry will be missed by everyone who knew him."

Marchionne joined Fiat in 2004 and led the Turin-based company's merger with bankrupt U.S. carmaker Chrysler. He built the dysfunctional companies into the world's seventh-largest automaker.

Marchionne was reported to have had surgery for a shoulder problem about three weeks ago in Switzerland. Fiat Chrysler said Saturday that due to his deteriorating health Marchionne "will be unable to return to work" and found a replacement.

The FCA board of directors appointed Mike Manley, former head of FCA's Jeep and Ram divisions as chief executive officer during an emergency meeting on Saturday, July 21.