Ferrero billionaire owner dies
Michele Ferrero, owner of global chocolate company Ferrero and Italy’s richest man, died on Saturday 14 February 2015, aged 89.
Ferrero is a global company privately owned by the Ferrero family. It was established in 1944 in Alba in northern Italy when the company’s founders, brothers Michele and Pietro Ferrero opened a small confectionary shop during the Second World War and used local hazelnuts to create appealing and affordable products. The Company has grown over the years to become the leading confectionery manufacturer in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Today the Company’s products include market-leading brands such as Nutella, Tic Tac, Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Surprise and Bueno.
Ferrero now produces around 365,000 tonnes of Nutella every year in 11 factories around the world and has a market presence in 53 countries. The biggest market is Germany, followed by France and Italy.
Ferrero expanded to Australia in 1974 and now employs more than 300 people. The Company’s commercial headquarters are located in Sydney, with its manufacturing operations based in Lithgow, west of Sydney, where Nutella and Tic Tac are produced.
In November 2014, Ferrero Australia invested $70 million in a hazelnut farm near Narrandera in New South Wales. The Company planted more than one million trees on a new 2,000-hectare farm owned by Agri Australis Pty Ltd, which is an Australian subsidiary of the global Ferrero Group.
Once this farm is fully operational, it is expected it will generate some 5000 tonnes of hazelnuts and has the potential, with the contribution of local growers, to enable the NSW industry to meet a production target of 10,000 tonnes in the medium term.
Ferrero Group succession
Michele Ferrero’s son, Giovanni Ferrero currently runs the Company. Giovanni Ferrero became Chief Executive of the Company after his older brother Pietro, who had been the chosen heir to the Company, died of a heart attack in 2011. Industry insiders have speculated that Giovanni Ferrero was less interested in running the Company than his older brother had been.
Commentators have suggested that Michele Ferrero’s death will open questions of succession and potential tie-ups at the family-controlled Ferrero group, which has annual sales of around 8 billion euros ($9 billion).
The billionaire died at home in Monaco after months of illness, according to a statement from the Ferrero group.