LVMH sets up finance chief succession amid wider reshuffle

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LVMH sets up finance chief succession amid wider reshuffle

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LVMH is setting up the succession of one of its top executives amid a wider reshuffle and generational handover at billionaire Bernard Arnault’s luxury empire.

The world’s largest luxury group has appointed Cécile Cabanis as deputy finance director to work alongside Jean-Jacques Guiony — LVMH’s chief financial officer and a 20-year veteran of the group — in preparation for her to succeed him.

Cabanis, 52, who spent 17 years at French yoghurt maker Danone before joining investment firm Tikehau Capital as deputy chief executive, will join LVMH’s executive committee and report to Guiony in preparation for assuming his role in a process that is expected to take at least 18 months. 

“Succession planning for key positions is a strategic priority for the LVMH Group. Jean-Jacques Guiony will prepare the progressive handover of his responsibilities to Cécile, ensuring a seamless transition in this essential role,” the company said on Friday, adding that his new responsibilities would be announced “in due time”.

Cabanis brings “a proven track record with world-leading groups in a range of key finance positions, in particular mergers and acquisitions and financial communications,” the group added.

Jean-Jacques Guiony is a 20-year veteran of LVMH © Jean-Francois Robert/LVMH

The transition is the latest in a flurry of changes among top executives close to Arnault as his five adult children step into more prominent roles, a process that has gained momentum since the start of 2023.

Changes in the children’s roles in particular are closely watched for indications of who might one day succeed 75-year-old Arnault, who has indicated he has no intention of stepping back in the near term and pushed the age limit for his role at LVMH to be raised to 80 two years ago. 

Two more of Arnault’s sons joined LVMH’s board in April, taking the total number of siblings with seats to four, while his 29-year-old son Frédéric took over as head of family holding company Financière Agache this week.

Arnault’s eldest daughter Delphine was appointed chief executive of Dior, the group’s second-largest brand by sales after Louis Vuitton, at the start of last year, in an example of another key appointment among the family. 

On the executive side, Guiony, 62, has been a key player at LVMH since joining in 2003 from investment banking boutique Lazard, where he was head of mergers and acquisitions. During his time in charge of the group’s finances, LVMH has grown more than six-fold to have revenues of €86.2bn last year. 

He is the latest of its long-time executives to set the stage for an era of transition. Antonio Belloni, 69, stepped down as group managing director in April after 23 years as Arnault’s right hand, replaced by Stéphane Bianchi. Crucially for the next stage of LVMH’s evolution, the 59-year-old former head of watches and jewellery was also one of the architects of family succession at cosmetics group Yves Rocher. 

Top managers and Arnault advisers Sidney Toledano, 72, and Michael Burke, 67, have also stepped back to make room for a new generation of executives to move into key positions in the past year, although all remain at the group. 

Guiony joined LVMH in the same role that Cabanis now takes on, becoming chief financial officer a year later. In addition to sitting on the group’s executive committee, he is also chief executive of LVMH-owned upscale department store La Samaritaine, which the group reopened in 2021 after a €750mn renovation.

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