A real-life Succession is playing out on the other side of the Atlantic.
Bernard Arnault, the head of the luxury conglomerate LVMH and the richest man in the world, has long been preparing his five children to take over once he steps down, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. It’s not clear exactly when that will be, but Arnault is making sure that any one of his kids could soon be in his position.
Beginning when they were little, Arnault would test his children in math and bring them along on business trips and to negotiations. Now, they all hold roles within the LVMH empire: Delphine is the CEO of Christian Dior; Antoine is the CEO of the listed company that holds the family’s stake in LVMH; Alexandre is the executive vice president of Tiffany & Co.; Frédéric is the head of TAG Heuer; and Jean is the director of marketing and development for Louis Vuitton’s watches division.
Once a month, the six get together for a 90-minute lunch at LVMH’s Paris headquarters, where Arnault asks his kids for advice on everything from specific managers within the company to whether a major shake-up should occur. And despite the fact that they’re all ostensibly vying for the top job, the kids themselves get along swimmingly, according to Sidney Toledano, who oversees a number of LVMH’s fashion brands.
Arnault, 74, isn’t required to retire until he reaches the age of 80, and he hasn’t explicitly said that he’ll name one of his children as his successor. The only thing he’s noted is that the next LVMH chief will be chosen based on merit, the WSJ wrote.
“You have to choose whoever is best at a given point in time considering the challenges,” Toledano told the newspaper. “It’s what he does with his managers, his advisers, and I think it’s what he’ll do with his children.”
Whoever ends up stepping into Arnault’s shoes, they’ll be taking over a company currently valued at $480 billion. (Arnault himself is worth $208 billion.) More than that, though, they’ll be tasked with carrying on the businessman’s legacy in the luxury world. Thankfully, he’s been training his kids for decades to do just that.