* Babin to take over at jeweller Bulgari before June 30
* Appointment part of management reshuffle
* Bulgari boss Burke moved to top position at Louis Vuitton
(Rewrites first paragraph, adds LVMH statement, background)
ZURICH, Feb 12 Luxury goods group LVMH
named a new chief executive at its jewellery brand Bulgari on
Tuesday as part of a management rejig triggered by the surprise
departure of the chief of its flagship brand Louis Vuitton.
Jean-Christophe Babin, currently head of LVMH's watch brand
TAG Heuer, will take over at Bulgari, filling a post left vacant
by Michael Burke's move to the top position at Louis Vuitton,
whose chief quit in December after just a month in the role.
Bulgari's leadership is important for LVMH, which acquired
the brand for 3.7 billion euros ($5 billion) in 2011.
"Bulgari is their most important asset in watches and
jewellery, but also a tough nut to crack, as far as creating
value for shareholders (is concerned), given the acquisition
premium paid," Exane BNP Paribas analyst Luca Solca said.
The executive changes come in the wake of the departure of
Jordi Constans from Louis Vuitton over health problems.
Babin, who is a French and Italian citizen and speaks fluent
Italian, will take up his new role in Rome before June 30, LVMH
said. A spokeswoman for TAG Heuer, LVMH's biggest watch brand
whose diversification into eyewear and mobile phones was
overseen by Babin, said no successor had been named so far.
LVMH only diversified into watches just over a decade ago.
Apart from TAG Heuer, it owns the Hublot and Zenith brands as
well as watch and jewellery brand Chaumet.
A father of five, Babin arrived in Switzerland in 2000 to
take over as TAG Heuer CEO after having previously worked at
Procter & Gamble and Boston Consulting Group, where he
learned Italian while travelling between the Paris and Milan
offices from 1988 onwards.
In 1994, he joined consumer goods company Henkel's
Italian subsidiary, but it was through his wife, an
Italian national and marketing director for LVMH's Moet Hennessy
wines and spirits for Italy, that he first made contact with the
world of luxury goods.
"I would think LVMH needs more managerial talent from the
outside to beef up its talent pool. But in this case, they must
have thought they had 'the man'," Solca said.
Last year, Philippe Pascal, former head of LVMH's watches
and jewellery unit and personal adviser to group Chief Executive
Bernard Arnault, left LVMH to pursue a career outside the group.
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by David Goodman)