This is the mysterious billionaire, successful in the “chocolate world”

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This is the mysterious billionaire, successful in the “chocolate world”

Nutella has a dedicated base for fans who support coffee shops.

Nutella and even a Nutella themed hotel in the Napa Valley. But no one can love it more than Giovanni Ferrero, the Italian billionaire who built a multi-billion dollar fortune from chocolate spread.

Ferrero's father invented Nutella in 1964, and his immense popularity in Italy helped grow the family chocolate shop into a multibillion-dollar business that now produces Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tac and Kinder chocolate, Forbes reported.

Despite the proliferation of its products, both Ferrero and the company have maintained an extremely low profile, to the point where their safety measures are compared to those of NASA.

Giovanni Ferrero, 55, is the youngest son of Nutella inventor Michele Ferrero.

Giovanni Ferrero was born in Italy in April 1964, according to the 'Bloomberg Billionaires Index'. Ferrero attended the European School, a Belgian boarding school, Scan reports.

Ferrero went on to study marketing at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania, according to

Ferrero joined his father and brother in the family business after graduating.

Ferrero's first job at the family company was for the Tic Tac brand in Belgium, according to Forbes.

The Ferrero Group originated when Ferrero's grandfather, Pietro Ferrero, opened a chocolate shop in Alba, Italy, in 1946. The store's main product was Supercrema, a widespread hazelnut, born out of wartime chocolate shortages; was the precursor to Nutella.

Over 70 years later, Ferrero Group is the world's second-largest confectionery company. The company sold cakes worth $ 11.9 billion in the fiscal year ending August 2018, Bloomberg reported.

Giovanni and his brother Pietro became joint CEOs of the company in 1997.

Pietro managed business logistics and product development daily, while Giovanni focused on the creative aspect, reports Forbes. However, their routine ended abruptly when Pietro died of a heart attack during a bicycle accident in South Africa.

Giovanni then became CEO of Ferrero Group, while his father Michele stayed on as executive chairman.

Michele Ferrero died in 2015, leaving the company only in the hands of Giovanni.

Ferrero then took over the role of executive chairman in 2011. Ferrero held both the title of CEO and chief executive for two years until he hired Lapo Civiletti as the company's 2017 CEO.

Ferrero does not have the personality you usually assume from a billionaire businessman

Giovanni was the “most introverted” of the Ferrero brothers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Forbes' Noah Kirsch described Ferrero as “slim, well-dressed and with a disarming parable”, with “more air of a game host than a billionaire factory owner” after interviewing him in June 2018.

However, Kirsch noted that Ferrero “speaks in the course of corporate jargon (” dimensional thresholds “,” growth momentum “,” focus “) involved with archival data.”

Since becoming the company's sole leader, Ferrero has defied some of its traditions for decades

Since taking over as executive chairman, Ferrero made the first acquisitions in the company's history and hired its first CEO who was not a family member, reports Forbes.

The Ferrero Group bought British chocolate Thorntons for $ 170m in 2015, Butterfinger and BabyRuth US pastry maker Nestlé for $ 2.8bn in 2018, and Kellogg's biscuit businesses in 2019, according to a Forbes report and a press release. The acquisitions are in stark contrast to Ferrero’s father’s business plan, which focused on building interior brands.

“Tradition is like a bow,” Ferrero wrote in an email to Manuela Mesco of The Wall Street Journal in 2016. “The longer we shoot the arrows, the farther we can throw the arrows of modernity and innovation.”

Ferrero's innovations seem to be paying off. The billionaire added $ 9.63 billion to its net worth in 2019.

Ferrero is now worth $ 32 billion, estimates Bloomberg, up 43.1% from the beginning of 2019. That makes him the 27th richest person on Earth, worth more than Elon Musk and Michael Dell, according to the 'Index of Bloomberg Billionaires'.

Ferrero and his family are the sole owners of the Ferrero Group. Giovanni Ferrero's stake alone is worth over $ 23 billion.

Ferrero doesn't spend all his time working. He also writes novels in his spare time

Ferrero has written eight novels, some of them set in Africa, according to Forbes.

His latest book, a novel titled “Il cacciatore di luce” (“The Hunter of Light”) following an African painter who has been diagnosed with leukemia, was published in 2016 according to his site on Amazon.

Both Ferrero and his company are extremely private.

Ferrero Group is “one of the most secretive firms in the world”, wrote John Hooper of the Guardian in 2010.

The chocolate maker allowed reporters to visit her factory in Alba, Italy, for the first time in the company's 65-year history in 2011, and its chairman conducted his first interview with a 2018 US media outlet.

The Ferrero group previously stopped touring its factories for fear of “industrial espionage”, as its equipment plans and Nutella recipes are closely guarded secrets, reports the Washington Post's Sarah Kaplan. An anonymous executive compared the company's security measures to those of NASA, according to The Guardian.

Ferrero's father behaved similarly, hiding details of his life from the press and wearing dark glasses whenever he appeared in public, the Washington Post reported.

This is the mysterious billionaire, successful in the “chocolate world”

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