JOHN ELKANN. FIAT: With the Grace of Grandpa

JOHN ELKANN FIAT

Just after Fiat chief Gianni Agnelli died last January, the world got a rare glimpse of the company's heir apparent. John Elkann--the grandson Agnelli had handpicked six years earlier as his eventual successor--cut a striking figure at the wake in Turin, reminding many of the young Agnelli's poise and elegance. For now, Gianni's brother Umberto Agnelli, 69, controls Fiat Corp. But Elkann, 27, has become the man to watch.

Elkann is committed to the company. While getting his engineering degree at Turin's Politecnico University, he would sneak off for incognito stints at Fiat operations: a headlight plant in England, a production...

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