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FB Roundup: Antoine Arnault, Sofie Kirk Kristiansen; Jonathan Oppenheimer

FB Roundup: Antoine Arnault, Sofie Kirk Kristiansen; Jonathan Oppenheimer
In this week’s FB Roundup, Antoine Arnault steps down as Berluti chief executive; Lego heir Sofie Kirk Kristiansen sells $930 million of shares in the family firm; and Jonathan Oppenheimer takes control of Nigeria's leading can manufacturing company.
By Glen Ferris
Antoine Arnault

Antoine Arnault steps down as Berluti chief executive
Antoine Arnault, the eldest son of LVMH owner Bernard Arnault, is leaving his role as chief executive officer (CEO) of Berluti. 

The move, which has kickstarted succession chatter at the world’s biggest luxury group, sees Antoine staying on as chairman of the Parisian footwear brand while being succeeded as CEO by Jean-Marc Mansvelt, who is moving across from LVMH jewellery brand Chaumet.

The changes, which are effective from January 1, 2024, have renewed speculation about the succession plans of 74-year-old Bernard Arnault. Earlier this year, Arnault Sr, who has an estimated net worth of $188 billion and is the second richest man in the world (according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index), oversaw a shake-up of executive LVMH roles. His 48-year-old daughter, Delphine, was appointed CEO of Christian Dior, with Antoine as head of the family-owned holding company Christian Dior SE, as well as other oversight responsibilities at LVMH.

Despite LVMH having last year lifted its chief executive age limit to 80, allowing Bernaud longer to stay at the head of the table, this latest reshuffle has fuelled rumours that the 46-year-old Antoine is being lined up to assume future control of LVMH.

The high-end luxury group was formed in a merger between fashion house Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy in 1987 and now owns 75-plus brands, including Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Bulgari, Tiffany & Co.

Antoine and Delphine are among five siblings currently working for the family firm. Alexandre Arnault, 31, is currently in charge of product and communications at Tiffany & Co; Frederic, 29, is chief executive of watch brand Tag Heuer; and Jean Arnault, 25, heads up developing Louis Vuitton’s watch category.

Lego heir Sofie Kirk Kristiansen sells $930 million of shares in the family firm
Fourth-generation family member, Sofie Kirk Kristiansen, who, along with her father, sister and brother own a 75% stake in Lego, has sold $930 million of shares in the family firm.

The great granddaughter of Ole Kirk Christiansen, the Danish toy brand’s founder, sold four million shares in Kirkbi A/S, the family-run company which has majority control of The Lego Group, according to a filing reported by Bloomberg. 

“The proceeds of the share sales were paid out as a form of dividend and the shares were subsequently canceled by Kirkbi, meaning that other family members increased their stakes in the family firm,” the company said in a statement. 

“Earlier this year, Sofie Kirk Kristiansen agreed with the other shareholders to sell a small portion of her shares to Kirkbi in order to dedicate a greater part of her time and resources to a number of nature conservation projects,” the statement continued.

As reported by Forbes, Sofie has a net worth of $6.8 billion and is one of the richest people in Europe in 2022. The Danish family as a whole represent $32.8 billion of the country’s $57 billion total billionaire wealth. 

Kirkbi is currently chaired by Sofie’s brother Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, who took over from their father, Kjeld, earlier this year. According to a Kirkbi press release at the time of succession, Sofie had 12.7% voting rights at the company, while her sister Agnete had 12.8% and Thomas had 37.7%. The rest of the family ownership (22.5%) is held by their father and the family’s non-profit foundation. It is not currently clear how the recent sale share by Sofie has increased her family members’ share ownership or voting rights. 

Jonathan Oppenheimer

Jonathan Oppenheimer takes control of Nigeria's leading can manufacturing company
South African billionaire businessman Jonathan Oppenheimer has taken full control of Nigeria’s largest beverage can-maker, GZ Industries.

The only child of South African billionaire businessman and former chairman of De Beers diamond mining company, Nicky Oppenheimer, oversaw the purchase of the remaining shares the family firm Oppenheimer Partners didn’t already own in GZ Industries from Affirma Capital, formerly known as Standard Chartered Private Equity, according to a statement. 

“Oppenheimer's interest in Nigeria’s largest beverage can maker is coming at a time when the country is trying to revitalise its crippling economy,” reported Bloomberg. “In light of this, the administration has been implementing measures aimed at eliminating double taxation and facilitating swift remittances of foreign funds to counter a decline in capital inflow into the country.”

The Oppenheimer family has a combined net worth of $9.4 billion, largely through the 2012 sale of their stake in De Beers for about $5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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