Who is 'Umberto Agnelli'

Umberto Agnelli was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Fiat S.p.A., the Italian automaker now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and was also Chairman of the Board of Juventus F.C. Upon his death from lung cancer in 2004, almost 18 months after his older brother’s death, he was one of the wealthiest men in Italy. Fiat, founded in 1899, had long been the Agnelli family business. Agnelli’s son, Andrea Agnelli, is currently Chairman of the Board of Juventus F.C. and has been on the Board of Directors of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. since 2014.

BREAKING DOWN 'Umberto Agnelli'

Umberto Agnelli was born on November 1, 1934 in Lausanne, Switzerland to the princess of San Faustino, Virginia Bourbon del Monte, and her husband, Edoardo Agnelli. Umberto lost his father to a plane crash when he was a year old and his mother in a car accident when he was 11. After graduating with a law degree from Turin University in 1959, he ran SAI, a small insurance company that initially worked only with Fiat but became one of the largest insurers in Italy under his guidance.

Umberto Agnelli Denied Chairmanship

In 1965, he became chairman for Fiat in its French scooter division and in 1970, he became group managing director. In 1976, he left to serve as a Christian Democrat senator for three years, then returned to Fiat as CEO. He was denied the chairmanship of the company by his older brother, Gianni, whose goal was to put Umberto's son, Giovanni, in the position. It was only after the tragic death of Giovanni at age 33 that was he even considered for the role.

During Agnelli's short term as Chairman of Fiat (a post he only attained in 2003, the year before his death) he began to turn the then-failing company around. He devised a strategy of selling off non-automobile assets such as insurance and aviation, so that Fiat could focus on its core car and tractor operations. He also hired Giuseppe Morchio as Chairman of the Board to help implement the strategy. With Sergio Marchionne serving as CEO, Fiat once again became a profitable company.

In addition to business, Agnelli was passionate about soccer. He was Chairman of the Board of the Juventus football team, and also served as President of the Italian Football Association. He was honored for his dedication to the game by being inducted posthumously into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Agnelli had two other sons besides Giovanni with his first wife, but they died shortly after birth. He and his second wife had another child besides Andrea, a daughter named Anna. At the time of his death, Agnelli had an estimated worth of $2.1 billion.

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