Bernard Arnault to nominate two more sons to LVMH board

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Bernard Arnault is to nominate two more of his sons to the board of LVMH, further consolidating the hold of the controlling family’s next generation over the world’s biggest luxury group.

Both Alexandre, 31, and Frédéric, 29, will be put forward as candidates for the board, according to people familiar with the decision, a move that will be watched for signs of which of the 74-year-old patriarch’s five children will succeed him.

LVMH is set to report annual results on Thursday, and board nominations will need to be voted through by shareholders at the annual meeting in April. 

The Arnault family owns more than 48 per cent of LVMH shares and about 64 per cent of voting rights.

LVMH declined to comment on the nominations, first reported by French news outlet La Lettre.

Alexandre and Frédéric will join older siblings Delphine, 48, and Antoine, 46, on LVMH’s board, leaving Jean, 25, as the only one not yet on the board.

All five Arnault children work in various parts of the group, and each new appointment is scrutinised for signs of how it is thinking about succession planning.

Arnault raised the age limit for chief executive to 80 in 2022, prolonging the time he could remain at the helm.

Earlier this month, Frédéric was promoted to head of LVMH Watches, overseeing the Tag Heuer, Hublot and Zenith brands. Alexandre has overseen communications at US jeweller Tiffany & Co for three years.

“Succession is not a topic we think about today. It will come in due time. And he’s a master of timing,” Frédéric told the FT in an interview, referring to his father. 

Delphine, the eldest, took over as chief executive of fashion house Dior — the group’s second-biggest brand after Louis Vuitton — last year and sits on LVMH’s executive committee.

Antoine, 46, recently stepped back from his role as chief executive at leather goods brand Berluti to head family holding company Christian Dior SE, in addition to being the group’s head of image and sustainability.

Jean runs watchmaking at fashion and leather goods house Louis Vuitton.

The changes come at a delicate moment for the luxury industry, which is readjusting to more normal growth rates after a three-year boom during the pandemic as lockdown savers spent on handbags.

LVMH was one of the main beneficiaries, hitting record sales and profits and growing Louis Vuitton to become the world’s first luxury brand with more than €10bn in annual sales. 

However since last year, cost of living pressures on the middle classes in the US and Europe have damped appetite, while China’s recovery from harsh Covid lockdowns has been slower than some expected.

Shares in big luxury groups have pared back from historic highs since last spring as investors queried growth prospects. Shares in LVMH have fallen over 22 per cent in the past six months for a market value of €330.8bn, despite growing sales 10 per cent in the first nine months of last year.

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