Ferrari picks electronics pioneer with no luxury experience as CEO

Ferrari has appointed an electrical components specialist as chief executive, a surprise appointment that ends a search that began late last year when its former boss Louis Camilleri resigned with Covid-19.

The new boss Benedetto Vigna, an Italian, is the head of the sensors unit of STMicroelectronics, the largest and most profitable division of the technology group. He will join the supercar builder in September.

Vigna has been with STMicroelectronics since 1995, founding the division he heads, which is now the same size in sales and staffing as Ferrari.

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

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

However, his appointment comes as a major surprise, having no direct automotive or luxury experience. Candidates reported for the post included a number of established luxury executives.

“The appointment is very unexpected and, in our opinion, reflects the need to ‘reinvent’ Ferrari and the difficulty in finding candidates ready to take on the task,” said Philippe Houchois, automotive analyst at Jefferies.

“That said, the strategic thinking of Ferrari and Exor chairman John Elkann should not be underestimated,” he said.

Exor, led by Elkann, owns 36% of the voting rights of Ferrari, as well as 14% of Stellantis, the automaker resulting from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and the French PSA this year.

Elkann is famous for his scouting for talent after choosing then-unknown Sergio Marchionne to lead the near-bankrupt Fiat in 2004.

Over the next 14 years, Marchionne transformed the company into a € 200 billion empire, comprising the acquisition of Chrysler and the split of Ferrari and CNH Industrials as separate businesses.

Speaking at the announcement on Wednesday, Elkann said that “Vigna’s deep understanding of the technologies that are driving much of the change in our industry, and her proven skills in innovation, creation of ‘company and leadership, will further strengthen Ferrari and its unique history of passion and performance, in the exciting era to come ”.

Vigna called his appointment a “special honor” and said he joined “with a deep sense of responsibility to the extraordinary achievements and capabilities of the men and women of Ferrari, all stakeholders in the company and to everyone in the world for whom Ferrari is such a unique passion ”.

About Geraldine Higgins

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