Return to site

Many family firms lack heirs. Unrelated help is at hand

via The Economist

How to succeed when you have no successor

"Handing over a family business to the next generation can be a dramatic process. If the company is big and progeny bountiful, the intrigue is followed with zeal by both the financial press and the tabloids. When 29-year-old Frédéric Arnault, the second-youngest of five scions of the LVMH luxury empire, took over its watch unit at the start of the year, speculation swirled about the succession plan being put in place by his billionaire father, Bernard Arnault. Yet many more heads of family firms face the opposite predicament: they have no heir at all.

Legions of entrepreneurs born in rich countries during the two-decade baby boom starting in the 1940s are close to retirement age or past it. Some, like Giorgio Armani, the 89-year-old founder of the Italian fashion house, are childless. Others have offspring who want to chart their own career paths."