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Former FCA chief Mike Manley named CEO of AutoNation

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Auto retail giant AutoNation Inc. said Tuesday that it has named Stellantis executive Mike Manley as its next CEO to replace the outgoing Mike Jackson.

The moves are effective Nov. 1, when Jackson, 72, will retire from his post as well as the company's board, the nation's largest new-vehicle retailer said.

Manley, 57, had been CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles before its merger this year with PSA Group. He was then named head of Americas for Stellantis.

AutoNation previously had said Jackson, AutoNation's longtime leader, would retire as CEO by April 2022.

Manley, who will be the fourth person to hold the AutoNation CEO title since 2019, brings a wealth of automaker experience to AutoNation. His current role at Stellantis was created with the January merger of FCA and PSA. He was CEO of FCA from July 2018 to January 2021.

"I am excited to join AutoNation and the executive team," Manley said in a statement. "AutoNation has set the benchmark for automotive retail excellence. It has accomplished a number of industry first milestones, including being the only automotive retailer to sell over 13 million vehicles. Most recently, the company has shown its focus and determination by producing five consecutive record-breaking quarters, during an unprecedented time."

In a statement released by Stellantis, Manley also said: "After 20 incredible, challenging and enjoyable years, and with Stellantis performing so strongly under Carlos' (Tavares) leadership, the time feels right for me to open a new chapter."

AutoNation shares rose 1.9 percent to close at $121.09 on Tuesday.

AutoNation has had churn in its top job over the past few years.

AutoNation hired industry outsider Carl Liebert as CEO in early 2019 to replace Jackson. He lasted just months on the job before AutoNation that July named CFO Cheryl Miller as CEO.

Miller went on medical leave in April 2020, and AutoNation brought back Jackson as CEO to fill in until Miller returned. But she resigned in July 2020. Jackson again became permanent CEO, and his contract was extended until April 12, 2022.

AutoNation Chairman Rick Burdick in a statement touted Manley's experience.

"Mike Manley brings considerable and comprehensive automotive experience to AutoNation, including strategy, business development, and a focus on operations," the chairman said. "Mike's exceptional performance over the years aligns with AutoNation's commitment to excellence, a peerless customer experience, and innovative industry-leading drive."

Jackson said he has been honored to serve AutoNation as CEO for 22 years and has confidence in Manley to lead the organization.

"We have built an admired and respected company from coast to coast," Jackson said in a statement. "I am forever grateful to all associates for our achievements and thank them from the bottom of my heart for all their efforts, especially through the pandemic."

Manley started in 2000 with DaimlerChrysler, where he was director of network development in the United Kingdom. In 2008, his role shifted to oversee product planning and sales outside North America, and he later was executive vice president of international sales and global product planning operations. Manley also has led brands, serving as CEO of Jeep and Ram and as COO for the company's Asia Pacific region.

With Manley's departure, Stellantis on Tuesday said Mark Stewart, COO of North America, and Antonio Filosa, COO of Latin America, will report directly to CEO Carlos Tavares.

But Manley will keep at least one tie to the automaker, joining the board of the Stellantis Foundation.

Tavares, in the Stellantis statement, said Manley was first a competitor but has been a partner, colleague and friend.

"From the very earliest days of our discussions, we shared a truly common vision, belief and commitment and it's on these solid foundations, built over the past several years, that Stellantis has delivered its impressive early results," Tavares said in a statement. "So, while I'm personally sorry to no longer have Mike as a colleague, I'm equally delighted for his new CEO role."

AutoNation Inc., of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ranks No. 1 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 249,654 new vehicles in 2020. It retailed 241,182 used vehicles in the same period, ranking it No. 3 on Automotive News' list of the top 100 used-vehicle retailers.

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