Ferrero chocolate CEO dies in accident

Pietro Ferrero — the CEO of the Ferrero Group holding company that produces Nutella, Tic Tac mints and other confections and a scion of one of Italy's richest families — has died at age 47 after an accident in South Africa.
An undated photo of Pietro Ferrero, CEO of Ferrero Italian sweets-maker, who died in an accident in South Africa. The company's press office said it didn't immediately have details of the death. The executive was in South Africa for work. (Roberto Monaldo, Lapresse/Associated Press)

Pietro Ferrero — the CEO of the Ferrero Group holding company that produces Nutella, Tic Tac mints and other confections and a scion of one of Italy's richest families — has died at age 47 after an accident in South Africa.

Pietro Ferrero, who died Monday, was also chairman of Ferrero S.p.A. the Italian branch of the family-run company and the heart of a candy and sweets maker.

A company statement did not provide more details on the nature of the accident while Ferrero was on a business trip in the country.

He was the son of Michele Ferrero, who turned the company into an international sweets producer and invented successes including Nutella and Kinder in the 1960s and helped make the Ferreros a billionaire family that is now Italy's richest.

Ferrero's namesake grandfather Pietro started the company in 1942, supplying products for a pastry shop run by his wife, Piera, in Italy's northwestern town of Alba. Because it was hard to obtain ingredients for sweets during the Second World War, the elder Pietro Ferrero decided to exploit something Piedmont had in abundance — hazelnuts — and invented a confection using a sweet paste made from the nut.

The company's line of products went international under the leadership of Michele Ferrero, son of the founder, who was the driving force behind the company's international expansions, starting with Germany in 1956, and then moving into Eastern Europe, Russia and Latin America in the 1990s.

Pietro Ferrero, began working in Ferrero, Germany, in 1985 after getting a university degree in biology, and then moved to company headquarters in Alba, working on technical and production matters.

In 1992, he took on the responsibility of managing operations in the European division of the Ferrero group.

At his death he was CEO of Ferrero International S.A., the Luxembourg-based holding group of Ferrero Group, and chairman of Ferrero, S.p.A., the Italian branch of the Group.

The family was Ferrero's only shareholder.