Nicolas G Hayek, co-founder, chairman and delegate of the board of directors of the Swatch Group, has died aged 82. A statement said he had passed away "unexpectedly … due to heart failure during work at his beloved Swatch Group."
The Lebanese-born entrepreneur and former engineering consultant made his name after receiving an assignment to develop a strategy for the future of two Swiss watch companies in the early 1980s.
In 1983, his Hayek Study recommended a number of measures designed to enable the survival and ultimate recovery of the companies, including the launch of a low-cost, high-tech, artistic and emotional "second watch" – the Swatch.
The subsequent implementation of this measure, the merger of the two businesses and the nomination of Hayek as CEO led to the newly-formed SMH Group becoming the most valuable watchmaker in the world within five years.
Today, the Swatch Group employs more than 24 000 persons in over 50 countries and had 2009 revenues of 5.421 billion Swiss francs. The Hayek family is thought to control roughly 40% of the company.
Son Nick Jr is president of the executive group management board, while daughter Nayla is vice-chairman of the board of directors. Grandson Marc A Hayek is also a member of the executive group management board and has responsibility for Swatch Group Middle East, Central and South America amongst other roles.
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