Michele Ferrero, Italy’s richest man and inventor of Nutella, dies

Ferrero built the business into one of the world’s biggest confectionery companies, introducing Kinder snacks and Ferrero Rocher chocolates

Michele Ferrero, the late owner of the Italian confectioner that makes Nutella and other chocolate sweets. Photograph: STR/EPA

Michele Ferrero, the late owner of the Italian confectioner that makes Nutella and other chocolate sweets. Photograph: STR/EPA

 

Michele Ferrero, Italy’s richest person and owner of the Ferrero Group, maker of Nutella spread and Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, has died aged 89.

Ferrero built the business founded by his parents in the 1940s into one of the world’s biggest confectionery companies, introducing Kinder snacks and Nutella in the 1960s and Ferrero Rocher chocolates two decades later.

His sons Pietro and Giovanni ran the Luxembourg-based holding company, Ferrero International SA, as joint chief executive officers from 1997 until Pietro, the eldest, died at 47 while riding a bicycle in South Africa in April 2011.

Michele Ferrero’s net worth of $22.3 billion ranked him 31st, the highest of any Italian, on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as of February 2015. Ferrero is the world’s fifth-largest confectionery company by revenue.

Michele Ferrero, who started at the company in 1950, avoided acquisitions, while newspapers including Il Sole 24 Ore reported that his sons saw a merger as an opportunity.

His parents transformed a small coffee bar and pastry shop in Piedmont, Italy, into a sweets factory in 1946. With cocoa expensive as Italy rebuilt from war, the company experimented with locally abundant nuts as a substitute ingredient, according to its website. Using a cocoa-hazelnut base, Ferrero developed Nutella, wildly popular the world over. – (Bloomberg)