LVMH Lines Up Next CFO as Luxury Empire’s Succession Stakes Grow


LVMH has chosen an eventual successor to its long-time chief financial officer as billionaire Bernard Arnault prepares a new generation of leaders to steer the world’s biggest luxury group.

The parent company of Louis Vuitton appointed Cecile Cabanis as deputy finance director, reporting to CFO Jean-Jacques Guiony. A former CFO of French yoghurt maker Danone SA, Cabanis is currently deputy chief executive officer of Tikehau Capital.

Cabanis, who starts on Monday, will join the executive committee, becoming the third woman on the body alongside Delphine Arnault, the eldest child of the billionaire CEO, and Chantal Gaemperle, 61, who’s in charge of human resources.

The appointment of Cabanis is part of a wider management shake-up. Arnault, 75, got a new deputy when Stephane Bianchi took over that role from Antonio Belloni after April’s annual general meeting.

The question of succession is of growing interest to observers of the world’s largest purveyor of high-end goods. Arnault’s five children all hold key roles within the group, and four have been named to the company’s board. They also have oversight and management duties at family holding vehicles.

This week, the world’s wealthiest person named his son Frederic Arnault, 29, as managing director of Financiere Agache, one of the holding companies through which the family controls its stake in LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE.

Bernard Arnault, with a fortune of about $215 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has said he has no plans to retire. The family holds almost half of LVMH’s share capital, with about 64 percent of the voting rights.

During his two decades as CFO, Guiony has helped oversee acquisitions including Tiffany & Co. — the biggest to date in the luxury industry — Bulgari, Loro Piana and Belmond. When Guiony joined from the investment bank Lazard Freres in September 2003, initially as deputy CFO, the market capitalisation of LVMH was about €26 billion ($28 billion). It’s now €381 billion, making the Paris-based group Europe’s third-biggest company by market value.

Arnault and Guiony also faced some M&A defeats, notably when an attempted takeover in 2010 of Hermes International SCA failed. Guiony will get new, as-yet-undisclosed responsibilities at LVMH in due course, the company said.

During Guiony’s tenure, the company has capitalised on booming global demand for luxury goods, especially in China. More recently, sales have slowed in that key market, but LVMH has been more resilient than rivals such as Gucci owner Kering SA.

By Angelina Rascouet

Learn more:

With Succession in Focus, LVMH Adds Alexandre and Frédéric Arnault to Board

At its annual meeting Thursday, LVMH shareholders approved the luxury conglomerate’s proposal to add two more of chairman Bernard Arnault’s children to its board of directors.

Disclosure: LVMH is part of a group of investors who, together, hold a minority interest in The Business of Fashion. All investors have signed shareholders’ documentation guaranteeing BoF’s complete editorial independence.

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