Patrick Ricard, who oversaw the rapid expansion of global wine and spirits company Pernod Ricard, died on 17 August aged 67.
The company did not reveal the cause of death, but he reportedly died of a heart attack in Toulon in France.
A consummate dealmaker, second-gen Patrick was best known for leading a number of big acquisitions after he became chairman and chief executive of the family business in 1978. He first joined the group in the late 1960s.
One large deal – the $8.15 billion (€6.63 billion) acquisition of Seagram’s drinks division in 2001 – included the Chivas Regal whisky brand, whose sales grew by more than 60% between 2002 and 2008.
Under Patrick’s leadership, the group became the second-largest drinks and spirits company in the world, after the UK’s Diageo. Since 1975, the group’s revenues have reportedly doubled every seven years.
Pernod Ricard, which traces its roots to 1932 when Patrick’s father, Paul, created an aniseed-flavoured drink, was formed following the merger of Ricard and rival Pernod in 1975.
During his tenure, Patrick led the purchase of Irish Distillers in 1988 and Allied Domecq – which makes Perrier-Jouet champagne – in 2005. Three years later – after acquiring Vin & Spirit, the owner of Absolut vodka – Patrick stepped down as chief executive, appointing non-family Pierre Pringuet to succeed him.
“Everything has changed since the beginning. Everything will continue to change in the future, but the key factors of success will remain the same: a long-term vision, which alone enables us to build over time, together with decentralisation and conviviality,” Patrick was quoted as saying on the company’s website.
It is still not clear who will replace Patrick as chairman of the firm. Currently, two third-generation family members hold top positions at Pernod Ricard.
Alexandre Ricard, Patrick’s nephew, is the managing director for global distribution. He previously headed up Irish Distillers until his promotion last year. Meanwhile Cesar Bosom, also one of Patrick’s nephews, runs the group’s operations in Poland.
The Paris-based company – 14% owned by the Ricard family – had 2011 revenues of €7.6 billion. Patrick is survived by his wife and three children.