Italian cashmere entrepreneur Sergio Loro Piana dies at 65

MILAN Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:26am EST

MILAN Dec 20 (Reuters) - Italian cashmere entrepreneur Sergio Loro Piana, whose family business was bought by luxury group LVMH for $2.7 billion earlier this year, has died at the age of 65, a person close to the family said on Friday.

Loro Piana lost his battle with a long illness at his home in Milan and leaves behind his wife and three children, Italian newspaper La Stampa said on its website.

From 1975, Sergio and his brother Pier Luigi ran the Loro Piana company founded by their father as a wool mill in northern Italy in 1924, taking on the chairmanship after their father's death in 1980.

A Loro Piana spokeswoman declined to comment.

"With Sergio Loro Piana, we lose a father of the 'Made in Italy' brand, who made the search for fabrics and innovation a symbol of style throughout the world," Milan municipal official Cristina Tajani said in a statement.

The company's trademark coats, made from the rare, soft wool of vicunas, llama-like animals it owns rights to shear in the Andes mountain range, sell for about 14,000 euros ($19,100).

France's LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, bought 80 percent of the Loro Piana brand in July for 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion), or more than 3.8 times the company's expected 2013 sales of 700 million euros.

LVMH said on Dec. 5 the brothers would be vice-presidents of the brand, with Antoine Arnault, son of LVMH's chief executive, its chairman. LVMH could not be immediately reached for comment.

($1 = 0.7316 euros) (Additional reporting and writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by Mark Potter)

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