LVMH chairman's son Antoine Arnault to head family holding Christian Dior SE

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PARIS, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Antoine Arnault, LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault's eldest son, was on Friday named chief executive of family holding company Christian Dior SE, replacing veteran executive Sidney Toledano and stirring speculations of succession at the group.

Christian Dior is a listed company that owns the bulk of the Arnault family's stake in LVMH (LVMH.PA) , the world's largest luxury group.

The move raises the stature of 45-year-old Antoine, one of 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 labels ranging from champagne to five-star hotels.

His appointment follows a change in the legal structure of the family's investment to ensure its control of LVMH, with holding company Agache, which owns shares in Christian Dior SE, becoming a joint-stock partnership on Tuesday.

The tightening of the family's grip on its empire also comes amid a wave of high-profile successions in other fashion companies in Europe.

Earlier this week, Italian fashion group Prada (1913.F) named former Luxottica chief Andrea Guerra as CEO as part of a strategy to ease a transition at the helm to the next generation of the founding family.

At Zara-owner Inditex, Marta Ortega, the youngest daughter of its founder Amancio Ortega, became chairperson in July.

At LVMH, Antoine Arnault, a business school graduate and a board member since 2006, oversees the group's communications and environmental issues, driving efforts to shore up its reputation.

He is married to Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova and often makes presentations on 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. He is also the chairman of Italian label Loro Piana.

LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault, 73, has not publicly named his 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 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 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, Louise Heavens and Arun Koyyur

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