The sudden change in management atop Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, prompted by the recent illness and death of former CEO Sergio Marchionne, should not derail the company's plan to launch a U.S. captive finance arm.
Mike Manley, formerly head of FCA's Jeep and Ram brands, was named CEO of the automaker on Saturday, succeeding Marchionne, who became gravely ill following recent surgery. The company on Wednesday said that Marchionne had died.
Manley is expected to adhere to a new five-year strategic plan the company laid out to investors and analysts on June 1.
"Fundamentally, my mandate is to deliver that five year plan. My intention is to deliver that plan as a strong, independent FCA, and my team is focused on that as well," Manley said Wednesday in a call with analysts to discuss the company's second-quarter financial results.
Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book who attended the presentation of the five-year plan in Balocco, Italy, said it is too soon to tell if the change in CEOs will affect the plan to launch a U.S. captive, but overhauling the strategy seems unlikely.
Lindland told Automotive News that she doesn't expect the plan to change as long as Fiat Chrysler CFO Richard Palmer remains on board. Palmer suggested that FCA would pursue a captive arm, through creation or acquisition, during the company's meeting in Italy.
Palmer "would obviously be integral to the discussions and negotiations of an outside firm," Lindland said.
Manley will likely uphold the plan Marchionne outlined for stockholders and analysts last month, she added, because he played a vital role in crafting it.
Establishing a captive finance arm remains a strategic move for the company because a captive could augment the company's balance sheet and benefit consumers and dealers alike, she said.
Santander Consumer USA, which has backed a large tranche of FCA's auto loans since 2013, is vying to be the automaker's captive lender.
Santander, however, has fallen short of FCA market share targets. The lender financed 28 percent of FCA's loan and lease originations in the first quarter, broadly missing the 65 percent mark it sought to reach by the end of April, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hannah Lutz and Larry P. Vellequette contributed to this report.