LVMH appoints Antoine Arnault as chairman of Loro Piana
PARIS Dec 5 (Reuters) - LVMH has completed its acquisition of major Italian cashmere clothing brand Loro Piana and named as its chairman Antoine Arnault, son of the luxury group's chief executive.
When the 2 billion-euro ($2.7 billion) deal was announced in July LVMH said the business's two former owners, Sergio and Pier Luigi Loro Piana, would remain at its helm. On Thursday the group said they would become vice-presidents of the company, leaving the top spot for Arnault.
LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, acquired 80 percent of Loro Piana to boost its presence in high-end handcrafted products popular with Asian buyers.
"The appointment of Antoine Arnault is a strong signal of the friendship between our two families now," Sergio and Pier Luigi Loro Piana said in a statement.
"LVMH's expertise in high-end luxury, demonstrated for over a decade at Louis Vuitton and now with the development of Berluti, is indisputable."
The appointment at Loro Piana gives the 36 year-old Antoine Arnault a bigger role within LVMH, which is controlled by the Arnault family, and the question of who will eventually succeed Chief Executive Bernard Arnault, 64, has been a subject of much speculation among investors.
Antoine Arnault, who made his mark as head of communications at Louis Vuitton with advertising campaigns featuring celebrities such as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, now heads the group's Berluti luxury shoe brand which he is trying to develop into a menswear label.
Antoine's sister Delphine, 38, who used to be deputy head of fashion brand Dior, last summer became second-in-command at Louis Vuitton, LVMH's biggest source of cash and profit.
Delphine has also been building her reputation as the group's top talent spotter. Last month, she created an LVMH prize to support young designers, enrolling fashion heavyweights as members of the jury such as Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Phoebe Philo, creative director of Celine, one of LVMH's fastest-growing fashion brands. ($1=0.7377 euros) (Editing by Greg Mahlich)