Edouard Michelin Dies in Boating Accident
Tributes have been paid from politicians and industry figures following the tragic death last Friday of Edouard Michelin, Managing Partner of the Michelin group. Mr. Michelin (42) drowned in a boating accident off the Brittany Coast during a fishing trip. He is survived by his wife and their six children. The Michelin company was founded in 1889 by Edouard Michelin’s great grandfather and Mr. Michelin joined the family firm in 1985, after training as an engineer at the Ecole Centrale de Paris. He took over as head of the company in 1999, succeeding his father Francois.
Edouard Michelin is credited with opening up Michelin, which had acquired a reputation for secrecy, giving interviews and holding analyst meetings. Among the tributes, Laurence Parisot, head of the MEDEF employers’ group, said: “France has lost a very great company leader”, while French President Jacques Chirac, speaking during a State visit to Chile, said: “French business is in mourning. Clermont is in mourning.”
The Michelin group has always been family-run and Edouard Michelin’s sudden death prompted the company to issue a statement on its website. Michel Rollier, who became chief financial officer in October 1999, just months after Edouard Michelin became chief executive, said he would assume “full responsibilities as the head of the company.”
Mr. Rollier’s statement reads: “The tragic death of Mr. Edouard Michelin is a trauma for all of us. My most profound thoughts are for his wife and their children and to Francois Michelin, who was very close to him.
“Pursuant to Michelin’s governing by-laws, as of today, I am assuming the full responsibilities as the head of Michelin. Our strategic orientations are clear. They remain unchanged.”
Analysts welcomed the statement, although one (at brokerage CMCIC) spoke of “a period of uncertainty”, adding that “no member of the Michelin family of five brothers and sisters appears likely to succeed Edouard Michelin.” Another analyst – Petra Horn at Exane BNP Paribas – was reported as saying: “The ultimate succession could be a delicate matter because traditionally the position of the president and managing director has been held by a member of the Michelin family.”
It was inconceivable that such tragic news would not have an effect on the company’s share price, but it seems that analysts were confident that Mr. Rollier would maintain Michelin’s current course while a new president is chosen. On the Paris stock market, Michelin’s shares fell 25 cents to 50.95 euros; up 7.3 per cent for the year.