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Ferrari selects an electronics pioneer with no luxury experience as CEO


Ferrari has appointed an electrical component specialist as its chief executive, an abrupt appointment that ends a search that began late last year when its former boss Luis Camilleri quit with Covid-19.

The new president, Benedetto Vigna, who is Italian, is the head of the sensors unit at STMicroelectronics, the largest and most profitable division of the technology group. He will join the supercar maker in September.

Vigna has been at STMicroelectronics since 1995, where he established the division he heads, which is now with the same amount of revenue and staff as Ferrari.

He specializes in motion sensors and was part of the team that invented 3-axis gyroscopes that change the screen ratio on a phone when it’s rotated.

The same technology that first appeared in the iPhone 4 is now common in the navigation systems of most modern cars, while Vigna spearheaded ST’s efforts to provide the auto industry with a suite of technologies.

But his appointment comes as a big surprise, as he has no first-hand experience in automobiles or luxury. Among the reported candidates for the position were a number of effective CEOs.

“The appointment is highly unexpected and, in our opinion, reflects the need to ‘reinvent’ Ferrari and the difficulty of securing candidates willing to take on the job,” said Philippe Hoshua, automotive analyst at Jefferies.

“Having said that, no one should underestimate the strategic thinking of John Elkann, president of Ferrari and Exor,” he said.

Exor, chaired by Elkann, holds 36 percent of Ferrari’s voting rights, as well as 14 percent of Stellantis, the automaker formed by this year’s merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA.

Elkann is famous for discovering his talent after choosing then-unknown Sergio Marchionne to run the nearly bankrupt Fiat in 2004.

In the next 14 years, Marchionne transformed the company into a €200 billion empire, including the acquisition of Chrysler and assembling Ferrari and CNH Industrials as separate companies.

Speaking on Wednesday at the announcement, Elkann said that “Vigna’s deep understanding of the technologies driving so much change in our industry, and his proven innovations, business building and leadership skills, will advance Ferrari, and its unique story of passion and performance, in the exciting era to come.”

Vigna described his appointment as a “special honor” and said he joins with “a deep sense of responsibility for the extraordinary accomplishments and capabilities of the Ferrari men and women, for all of the company’s stakeholders and for everyone around the world who represents Ferrari’s unique passion”.



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