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Family business roundup: All change at Fiat Industrial, Hermes and Versace

It was a week of big changes in family businesses, with Hermes announcing a new chief executive, Fiat Industrial proposing a merger with CNH and Bombardier hinting at a possible listing in New York.

It’s been a week of big changes in family businesses, with Hermes announcing a new chief executive, Fiat Industrial proposing a merger with CNH and Bombardier hinting at a possible listing in New York. 

Fiat Industrial, controlled by the Italian Agnelli family, said on 30 May that it wanted to “simplify the existing shareholding structure”, merging with CNH and listing the new company in New York, with a secondary listing in Europe. Fiat Industrial is currently headquartered in Turin.

The move comes just a little over a year since the Fiat Group split its industrial business from the car-manufacturing unit to create two separate companies – Fiat Industrial and Fiat.

Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Industrial’s non-family chairman, said the proposed merger was a “natural extension of the process of simplification of the Fiat world”. Fiat Industrial already has an 88% stake in CNH – a maker of farm and construction equipment.

In Canada, Pierre Beaudoin, family member and chief executive of Bombardier, also said he was considering a US listing of the Canadian train and plane-maker.

Speaking to the Toronto-based Financial Post, he said: “When the timing is right, we’ll do it.”

Another business considering listing is Italian family-owned Versace, whose chief executive Gian Giacomo Ferraris told Reuters that the fashion house might seek outside investors or an initial public offering.

Meanwhile, fellow family-controlled fashion company Hermes named a sixth-generation Hermes family member to succeed current non-family chief executive Patrick Thomas.

As of the end of May 2013, Axel Dumas, current chief operating officer at Hermes, will become joint chief executive of the luxury fashion brand, taking over fully at a later date.

"I have been working with Axel for more than six years; he has all the competences for the job. I am glad a member of the Hermes family has been brought in to succeed me," Thomas said in a statement.

Another sixth-gen member, Henri-Louis Bauer, was also named as the manager of Emile Hermes SARL, a family holding company that controls Hermes International. He replaces Bertrand Puech from 1 July. 

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