PARIS - Antoine Arnault, the eldest son of LVMH chairman and chief executive officer Bernard Arnault, has been named chief executive of family holding company Christian Dior SE, replacing veteran LVMH executive Sidney Toledano, and stirring speculation about broader succession at the group.
Christian Dior SE is a listed company that owns the bulk of the Arnault family's stake in LVMH, the world's largest luxury group.
The move raises the stature of Antoine Arnault, one of Bernard Arnault's five children, all of whom hold senior positions in LVMH, the group behind fashion houses Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, as well as scores of other labels ranging from champagne to five-star hotels.
The most visible of the five, Antoine Arnault, 45, oversees the group’s communications and environmental issues, driving efforts to shore up its reputation.
Arnault, who is married to Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova, often takes to the stage for presentations of the group's environmental efforts and hosts events such as public tours of workshops and factories.
For the past decade, he has been chief executive of high-end label Berluti, known for buffed leather shoes priced at more than $2,000, and bespoke tailoring for men as well chairman of Italian label Loro Piana.
A business school graduate, he has been a board member since 2006.
Arnault's appointment follows a recent change in the legal structure of the family's investment to ensure its long-term control of LVMH, with holding company Agache, which owns shares in Christian Dior SE, becoming a joint-stock partnership on Tuesday.
Bernard Arnault, 73, is chief executive and chairman of LVMH, and has not publicly named a successor to lead the sprawling luxury empire he built through acquisitions starting with Christian Dior.
The fashion label was folded into the LVMH group in 2017, and Christian Dior SE now holds 41% of LVMH, corresponding to 56% of the voting rights in the group.
Bernard Arnault, who often speaks at company events and last week attended a dinner at the White House with French President Emmanuel Macron, has shown no signs he plans to step down soon.
LVMH in April raised the maximum age of its chief executive officer to 80 from 75.
Antoine Arnault, and his older sister Delphine, 47, are children from their father's first marriage. Both are on the group's board of directors.
Alexandre Arnault, 30, is an executive at Tiffany & Co. while Frederic Arnault, 27, is chief executive officer of TAG Heuer. The youngest, Jean Arnault, 24, heads marketing and product development for Louis Vuitton's watches division.
Bernard Arnault and his family briefly took the title as the world's richest earlier this week but were back at No. 2, behind Elon Musk, with a personal wealth of $185.3 billion, according to Forbes.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Mimosa Spencer; Editing by Jason Neely, Clarence Fernandez and Louise Heavens)