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Business

Italian chocolate tycoon dies in accident in South Africa

Pietro Ferrero, joint chief executive of the Ferrero sweets empire, has died in a cycling accident in South Africa, the company said late Monday. Ferrero is best known for its Nutella and Kinder chocolate brands.

knife dipping into a jar of Nutella

Ferrero's Nutella has become a kitchen staple

Pietro Ferrero, one of the heirs to the fortune of Italian confectionery giant Ferrero, has died in a cycling accident while on a trip to South Africa, the company announced late Monday.

The 47-year-old, who had run the family-owned company with his younger brother Giovanni since 1997, apparently suffered a heart attack and fell off his bike. He cycled regularly.

"Italy has lost a businessman who represented the best qualities of our economic history," Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in a statement.

Family fortunes

Undated photo of Pietro Ferrero

Ferrero started his career in Germany

Ferrero was set up in 1946 in Alba, Piedmont in Italy by Pietro's grandfather, also called Pietro. Since chocolate was in short supply after World War II and hazelnuts grew in abundance in Piedmont, he rustled up a chocolate hazelnut spread called supercrema, which later became known the world over as Nutella.

His son Michele, Italy's richest man, managed to turn Ferrero into an international success in the 1960s. The company now employs more than 20,000 people worldwide and turns over around 6.6 billion euros ($9.4 billion) annually.

Pietro Ferrero studied biology and started his career at the German subsidiary of the firm in 1985 and then moved back to the head office in Alba, where he was looking after technical issues and production.

Along with its star product Nutella, Ferrero also owns the Tic Tac and Kinder brands. In Germany, Mon Cheri, Duplo and Hanuta are also household names.

Author: Nicole Goebel (AFP, dpa, AP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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