(Reuters) -Ferrari Chief Executive Officer Louis Camilleri has retired citing personal reasons after being in the role for nearly two and a half years and Chairman John Elkann will lead the company on an interim basis, the luxury automaker said on Thursday.
Camilleri’s decision to step down came after the executive suffered health problems, which made it necessary to hospitalize him for COVID-19 in recent weeks, a company source said.
He is now recovering at home but his illness was not the cause of his decision to retire, the source added.
Camilleri also retired as executive chairman of Philip Morris International (PMI), the Marlboro maker said separately.
Ferrari’s board is identifying a permanent successor to Camilleri, it said in a statement, giving no further details.
Camilleri was appointed to lead Ferrari in July 2018 after the sudden death of former CEO Sergio Marchionne.
During Camilleri’s tenure, Ferrari was one of the best performing stocks in the automotive sector, as demand for the company’s high performance cars remained strong despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Under his leadership, Ferrari shares have hit record levels, with those listed on Milan bourse touching an all-time high of 182.95 euros ($222.05) last month.
Camilleri was also leading a careful effort to expand the Ferrari vehicle lineup and the use of its brand, without undermining the exclusivity that supported its premium pricing and profit.
U.S.-listed shares of Ferrari fell about 1% in after-hours trading on Camilleri’s retirement news.
Ferrari’s Elkann told employees the company respected Camilleri’s decision to retire.
“It is with great regret that I, and all of us in the Ferrari family, have learned of Louis Camilleri’s decision to step down for personal reasons from his role as our Chief Executive”, Elkann said in a letter seen by Reuters.
“Louis’ leadership and passion have guided Ferrari to delivering impressive results,” Elkann said, adding that Camilleri will be available for advice to Ferrari.
Elkann is the scion of Italy’s Agnelli family and CEO of Exor, the family’s investment company and Ferrari’s top shareholder.
Philip Morris appointed CEO André Calantzopoulos to serve in Camilleri’s stead. Its independent presiding director, Lucio Noto, will serve as interim chairman until Calantzopoulos’ succession in May, the company said.
($1 = 0.8239 euros)
(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari in Milan and Kanishka Singh and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)