Bernard Arnault ensures the succession of the LVMH group

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto26 juillet 2022

LVMH boss Bernard Arnault, 73, is putting in place a series of operations to prepare his succession.

Bernard Arnault, who became the main shareholder of the LVMH group in 1989, intends to keep the empire in his family (Shutterstock)

To guarantee his family long-term control over LVMH, the luxury group's CEO is transforming the Agache holding company - the entity that manages the LVMH empire via the Christian Dior company - into a limited partnership with shares. The capital will be distributed in equal shares to the five children of the billionaire. With this transformation, Bernard Arnault aims to protect himself from dangerous takeover bids and to perpetuate the "family" status of the group.

The five children of the boss already hold key positions within the luxury group: Delphine Arnault is deputy CEO of Louis Vuitton, while Antoine Arnault is CEO of Berluti and manages the image and communication of the group's brands. Alexandre, 30, has been appointed executive vice president of Tiffany, while his brother Frédéric, 27, has become CEO of Tag Heuer. The younger brother, Jean, 24, entered the LVMH world last year, when he was appointed marketing director of Louis Vuitton watches.

This change will not alter the shareholding. Bernard Arnault remains at the helm of the holding company and will pass the torch, when the time comes, to Agache Commandité SAS, whose capital will be held by the five children of the boss. Bernard Arnault does not intend to hand over the management of LVMH in the near future. The rules concerning the age limit for the CEO of LVMH were changed at the annual general meeting. Today, the limit is no longer set at 75, but at 80, which will allow Bernard Arnault to remain in the limelight for a few more years.

As a reminder, the CEO took the reins of the group thirty-three years ago, transforming LVMH into a luxury empire, with its prestigious houses - about 80 - and a turnover that exceeded 64 billion euros last year. The Arnaults own 47.99% of LVMH.

This is not the first time that an entrepreneurial family has chosen this corporate formula in the luxury world. The Agnelli family in Italy and the Hermès group opted for the same choice. The fact of dissociating the control of the management and that of the capital allows the groups to ensure the heirs and to ward off the possibility of hostile takeover bids, as in the famous affair which concerned Hermès and… LVMH in 2010. Subsequently, Axel Dumas' group (Hermès) ensured his family's control of the group for at least two decades, thanks to the 54% of the capital held by the holding company H51.

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