In a strategic move reminiscent of scenes from the hit TV series “Succession,” Bernard Arnault, the world’s second-richest individual with a net worth of $173.1 billion (as of October 27, according to Forbes Real-Time Billionaire List), has recently restructured his business empire to ensure family management for the next three decades.
This bold transition involved the establishment of a limited partnership known as Financière Agache, designed to oversee Arnault’s high-fashion giant, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH). A recent report by Italy’s Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper, as reported by Fashion United, revealed the evolution in the company’s governance structure. The future control of LVMH shifted to a holding company named Financière Agache, which now boasts general partners with management authority and limited partners holding economic rights.
The children of Bernard Arnault’s late sister, Dominique Watine-Arnault, who passed away in 2006, have a stake in Financière Agache. Ludovic Watine, aged 42, and Stéphanie Watine, aged 33, control 19% of the partnership and will receive economic benefits. However, they do not hold managerial power over the company’s operations.
Control of Agache Commandité, the group of general partners with managerial authority over the company, has been divided among Bernard Arnault’s five children. These arrangements have been structured to ensure a long-term commitment to family control, as the children cannot sell their shares for the next 30 years. Arnault, at 74 years old, remains the company’s director and holds unlimited authority until he reaches the age of 95.
Arnault’s offspring, who are set to manage the LVMH partnership, are actively involved in various brands within the conglomerate. Delphine Arnault, aged 48, serves as the CEO of Dior; Antoine Arnault, aged 46, holds the position of vice chairman and former CEO of Dior; Alexandre Arnault, aged 31, previously CEO of luggage brand Rimowa, is now employed at Tiffany & Co.; Frédéric Arnault, aged 27, acts as the CEO of watch brand Tag Heuer; and Jean Arnault, aged 25, serves as the marketing and product development director of watches for Louis Vuitton.
LVMH, one of the largest and most influential fashion brand conglomerates worldwide, recently reported substantial growth. Over the past nine months, it achieved a 10% increase in sales, reaching €62.205 billion (equivalent to $65.81 billion). The company also noted impressive organic revenue growth of 14% for the nine months leading up to fiscal 2023 and 9% for the third quarter of that year.
Under the LVMH umbrella, several iconic luxury brands founded by families have consistently held the Arnault family in high regard in the world of fashion. These brands include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Tiffany & Co., Celine, and Loewe. Guided by Bernard Arnault’s leadership, LVMH has ascended to global prominence in the luxury industry, recognized for its innovative spirit and dedication to craftsmanship. Arnault’s role as a discerning investor has also been notable. Groupe Arnault, with investments in companies like Netflix Inc. (1999), Spotify Technology (2014), and Airbnb Inc. (2015), has consistently sought opportunities for growth and diversification. Furthermore, through the venture capital firm Aglaé Ventures, supported by Groupe Arnault, Arnault has spearheaded investments in firms such as TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance Ltd., as well as Lyft Inc. and Databricks Inc.
In recent years, the luxury fashion sector has witnessed a pronounced focus on securing the future of family-controlled empires, especially as billionaire founders grow older. The Armanis, Fendis, and Ferragamos are prime examples of families that initiated and continue to oversee family-controlled high-fashion brands. This shift toward preserving and extending the legacy of these iconic fashion houses reflects the commitment to maintaining excellence and tradition in the ever-evolving world of high fashion.