LVMH: Bernard Arnault has not yet chosen a successor

The five children of LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault are increasingly in the spotlight as they rise through the ranks of the luxury empire. Today, all hold key management positions within the group’s Houses. But while a family succession is partly possible at the head of LVMH, “it’s still too early to decide”, said the CEO of the world’s number one luxury goods group.

 

In the Arnault family, becoming a captain of industry is a role one is trained for from an early age. Like Logan Roy’s character in the Succession series, the billionaire’s five children followed a demanding educational path, attending prestigious private schools such as Stanislas and Franklin. They then continued their studies in preparatory classes before entering business or engineering schools. The next step was to join the family group, starting with positions in retail and communications, before proving their worth by revitalizing some of the group’s Houses. In the Arnault family, schoolwork, music and sport are revered.

 

 

But Bernard Arnault, the 74-year-old CEO at the helm of the luxury conglomerate he began consolidating in 1987, has yet to decide who will succeed him. Yet nothing is left to chance. Especially since the sudden death of Jean-Luc Lagardère, Bernard Arnault’s “best friend”, who left the reins of his empire to an ill-prepared son.

 

A family business

 

For the time being, Bernard Arnault has no intention of hanging up. On April 21, 2022, he had LVMH shareholders vote at a general meeting to amend the company’s articles of association to allow him to remain CEO until the age of 80. However, one thing is certain: he wants the group to remain a family business.

 

“Depending on people’s skills, there may – but this is neither an obligation nor a necessity – be a succession to its management that is also family-owned, but it’s still too early to decide”, explained the CEO of LVMH, crowned the world’s number one fortune in early April by Forbes magazine in its annual ranking for 2023.

 

“The important thing is that this group retains its family spirit”, he added. “I control the group because I was at the origin of it, it was a start-up at the beginning”.

 

The age limit for the CEO of LVMH has already been raised from 75 to 80, allowing him to remain at the helm for longer. He can also remain chairman of the Christian Dior SE holding company, which controls the LVMH group, until that venerable age.

 

Qualified children

 

Today, all five Arnault children work for the LVMH Group, and the two eldest, Delphine and Antoine, from a first marriage, are also members of the LVMH Board of Directors.

 

The eldest, Delphine Arnault, 48, has been President and CEO of the Christian Dior Couture fashion brand since February 2023. Previously, she was executive vice-president of Louis Vuitton, responsible for products. She also held the position of Deputy General Manager of Christian Dior Couture and, in addition to the LVMH Board of Directors, is a member of the Group’s Executive Committee. Delphine is a graduate of EDHEC and the London School of Economics.

 

 

Antoine Arnault, 46, is Director of Communications, Image and Environment at LVMH, as well as Chairman and CEO of Christian Dior SE, LVMH’s holding company. Since 2012, he has been CEO of high-end clothing and footwear brand Berluti, and since 2013, Chairman of Loro Piana, the Italian cashmere specialist. Previously, he was Communications Director at Louis Vuitton. Antoine is a graduate of INSEAD, a French business school, and HEC Montréal, a Canadian business school.

 

 

Alexandre Arnault, 31, is Executive Vice-President in charge of products and communications at Tiffany. He was previously CEO of luggage manufacturer Rimowa, which he led for four years from 2016. Alexandre holds a master’s degree from France’s École Polytechnique.

 

 

Frédéric Arnault, 28, is currently CEO of Tag Heuer since 2020. Prior to that, he was head of strategy and digital for the watch brand, which he joined in 2017. Frédéric is a graduate of France’s École Polytechnique.

 

 

Jean Arnault, 24, has been director of marketing and development for the watch division at Louis Vuitton since August 2021. He holds a master’s degree in financial mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London.

 

 

According to information gathered by Raphaelle Bacqué and Vanessa Schneider in their book “Successions : L’argent, le sang et les larmes“, 75% of LVMH was transferred in bare ownership to the five children, as well as to their two cousins, sons of Bernard Arnault’s deceased sister Dominique. For his part, the current Chairman and CEO and patriarch retains 25% of the shares in the holding company and the usufruct of the whole.

 

Finally, in order to ensure that no spouse or spare part would undermine his empire, Bernard Arnault discreetly passed a resolution at the Annual General Meeting on April 13, 2017, amending article 9 of the Group’s bylaws. The text thus stipulates that “any transfer of shares, even between shareholders or to a spouse who may or may not be a shareholder, is subject to the prior approval of the general meeting. The transfer of shares in the event of inheritance or the liquidation of community property between spouses is also subject to approval.

 

All the more reason to keep the family business going for a long time to come.

 

Read also >AFTER SILVIO BERLUSCONI’S DEATH, THE HEADACHE OF HIS LEGACY

Featured photo : ©Lewis Joly/SIPA

Grâce à une veille accrue et à une excellente connaissance de ces secteurs, la rédaction de Luxus Magazin décrypte pour ses lecteurs les principaux enjeux économiques et technologiques de la mode, l’horlogerie, la joaillerie, la gastronomie, les parfums et cosmétiques, l’hôtellerie, et l’immobilier de prestige.

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