French billionaire Bernard Arnault has appointed his son Frederic as head of one of the family holding companies controlling LVMH, the latest in a series of promotions for the 29-year-old scion within the world’s largest luxury group.

The fourth of Arnault’s five children, Frederic will replace Nicolas Bazire as managing director of Financiere Agache, the company said on Thursday (Jun 6). The Arnault family owns 48 per cent of LVMH’s capital and 64 per cent of its voting rights. The Paris-listed group owns brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior and US jeweller Tiffany.

A graduate of top engineering school Ecole Polytechnique like his father, Frederic was recently named chief executive of LVMH Watches, after a stint as chief executive of Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer. He and his 32-year-old brother Alexandre were appointed to the LVMH board in April, joining older siblings Delphine and Antoine. Shares rose 1.34 per cent on Thursday, giving LVMH a market value of €381.46 billion (US$411.02 billion; S$555.95 billion).

All changes in the roles of the five Arnault children, who all have roles within the LVMH, are scrutinised for signs of who might one day succeed the group’s 75-year-old patriarch.

Bernard Arnault has insisted that he has no intention of stepping back any time soon however, and the group two years ago increased the age limit for the chief executive role at LVMH to 80. But the French billionaire is carefully laying the groundwork for succession at the company by placing his children in key positions — a process that has increased in pace since the start of 2023. He recently reshuffled his top external managers in order to set up a generational handoff among senior executives that work alongside the family.

Delphine Arnault, 49, was appointed chief executive of Dior — the group’s second-biggest brand by sales after Louis Vuitton — at the start of 2023, and sits on LVMH’s executive committee.

Antoine, 47, is in charge of image and sustainability at the group, and was also named chief executive of Christian Dior SE — another family holding company above LVMH — at the end of 2022.

Alexandre is a senior executive at jeweller Tiffany & Co, which LVMH acquired for about US$16 billion (S$21.64 billion) in 2020. Jean, 25, runs watchmaking at Louis Vuitton.

Outside the family, the group’s managing director Antonio Belloni, 69, stepped down after 23 years as Bernard Arnault’s right hand in April, replaced by Stephane Bianchi, formerly LVMH’s head of watches and jewellery, who is a veteran of family succession at French cosmetics group Yves Rocher.

Adrienne Klasa © 2024 The Financial Times

This story first appeared in The Financial Times


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