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LVMH Shuffles Top Executives as Bernard Arnault Sharpens Succession Plan

PARIS — In the latest chapter of a generational changing of the guard, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced that Toni Belloni, one of Bernard Arnault’s most trusted lieutenants, will relinquish his key duties at the French luxury conglomerate and hand over his responsibilities to Stéphane Bianchi.

After more than 23 years working alongside Arnault, Belloni is to step down as group managing director and chairman of the executive committee of the LVMH group and leave the board of directors following the annual general meeting scheduled for April 18, LVMH said in a statement issued after the market close Thursday.

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Bianchi, who has moved swiftly up the ranks since joining the group in 2018, will chair the executive committee and exercise, alongside Arnault, the strategic and operational supervision of the group’s brands, which range from Louis Vuitton and Dior to Tiffany & Co., Sephora and Moët & Chandon.

Previously president of LVMH’s watches and jewelry division, the 59-year-old will also oversee the presidents of the regions and the group’s digital and data transformation, the group said.

Belloni, who is 69, will be in charge of strategic missions for Arnault and will be appointed president of LVMH Italy. “The idea is not at all to stop working. But today, I wanted to have more time for others, and primarily for my family,” Belloni said.

Toni Belloni.
Toni Belloni

The announcement comes as Arnault, who turned 75 this month, prepares his succession by tightening his family’s grip on the group’s leadership and transitioning some of his most senior executives to advisory roles.

At the AGM next month, LVMH will propose the appointments of his sons Alexandre Arnault and Frédéric Arnault to the board, as reported.

Alexandre Arnault, executive vice president of product and communications at Tiffany, and Frédéric Arnault, chief executive officer of LVMH Watches, will join their siblings Antoine Arnault, head of communication, image and environment at LVMH, and Delphine Arnault, chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, on the board.

Meanwhile, group veteran Michael Burke has succeeded Sidney Toledano, 72, at the head of LVMH Fashion Group. Toledano left the executive committee and became an adviser to Arnault in the handover, which took effect on Feb. 1.

Arnault has shown no indication that he intends to retire. In 2022, LVMH shareholders voted in favor of a resolution to extend to 80 the age limit for him to serve as CEO. Previously, the company’s bylaws fixed 75 as the age limit.

The LVMH boss had hinted at a new role for Bianchi at the press conference in January where the group reported another year of record results.

“Since joining the group, Stéphane Bianchi has demonstrated rare leadership and management qualities while immersing himself in the group’s entrepreneurial and family culture,” Arnault said in Thursday’s statement.

Stéphane Bianchi
Stéphane Bianchi

While LVMH is known for growing and grooming executive talent from within, Bianchi spent a large portion of his career at the Yves Rocher Group, where he was CEO from 1998 to 2015, directly managing the Yves Rocher and Petit Bateau brands.

At LVMH, he initially focused on the watch maisons Tag Heuer, Hublot and Zenith, gradually adding the jewelry houses Tiffany, Bulgari, Chaumet, Fred and Repossi to his remit. LVMH did not name anyone to replace him in that position.

“I am delighted by his new role and am convinced that with Stéphane at my side, and with the entire executive committee and the group’s employees, we will take the success of the LVMH Group even further, while respecting our values and commitments,” Arnault said.

He credited Belloni with being instrumental to the growth of LVMH, which last year became the first European company to reach a $500 billion market value.

“Toni has been an essential partner for me and a very important member of the LVMH family. I would like to thank Toni for his exceptional contribution over the last few years,” Arnault said.

“Inspiring, curious and unfailingly loyal, he has participated in all the acquisitions of recent years and has supported the growth of the group and its teams with agility and pragmatism. His vision of luxury, of the markets, and his work with our teams have been considerable assets,” he added.

Bernard Arnault with LVMH group managing director Antonio Belloni
Bernard Arnault with Toni Belloni.

Belloni joined the French luxury giant in 2001 after a 22-year career at Procter & Gamble. He is widely credited with engineering the strategy that saw LVMH focus resources on star brands, while tailoring new strategies for the individual businesses.

He has also played a key role in dealmaking, including LVMH’s $16.2 billion acquisition of storied American jeweler Tiffany in 2019, its largest purchase to date.

“Never a dull moment!” Belloni said in summing up his tenure at the group.

“As I step down from my current role, I realize how fortunate I have been to play a leadership role at the heart of one of the most extraordinary entrepreneurial ventures of recent decades. I would like to thank Mr. Arnault most sincerely for the opportunity he has given me, and even more so for the trust he has always placed in me,” he added.

“Working alongside him has been a unique, stimulating experience, full of challenges and learning, with exemplarity as my compass,” he said. “We have achieved excellent results, always respecting our values and supporting numerous initiatives for the benefit of the greatest number of people. It is now up to Stéphane to take us even further.”

A graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, Bianchi started out as a consultant at Arthur Andersen. He described his first five years with LVMH as “rich, exciting and demanding,” as he pledged to “always and relentlessly” strengthen its success.

“By joining the LVMH group at the end of 2018, I made the choice to join a family group, chaired and led by a visionary man, and carrying values to which I am deeply committed: legacy, long-term vision, timeless desirability of our maisons and products, and a permanent quest for excellence in all our actions,” he said.

LVMH said the board of directors meeting on April 18 would also be asked to appoint Chinese American businesswoman and lawyer Wei Sun Christianson as a director. Christianson has a lengthy career in finance, serving as CEO China and co-CEO, Asia Pacific, for Morgan Stanley, where she worked for close to 20 years.

“Wei Sun Christianson’s financial culture, her understanding of the luxury goods market and above all her in-depth and invaluable knowledge of China will be invaluable assets for the board of directors,” Arnault said.

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