Michele Ferrero, the billionaire founder of Italy’s Nutella and Ferrero Rocher empire, died on Saturday at the age of 89.
Ferrero, who had been dubbed by Forbes as “the richest candyman on the planet” with a family fortune estimated at around US$23 billion, died at his Monaco home after months of illness, BBC News reported.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella paid tribute to Ferrero, calling him a “born entrepreneur”.
Observers noted that the tycoon breathed his last on Valentine’s Day, when millions of lovers usually celebrate with chocolates.
Ferrero’s father developed the forerunner to Nutella in 1946, combining a small amount of cocoa and lots of hazelnuts to make an affordable luxury at a time when chocolate was expensive.
Ferrero later turned the paste into the Nutella now known the world over, produced in 11 factories and sold in 160 countries. The first pot was made in 1964.
Aprt from the chocolate-hazelnut Nutella spread and Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Ferrero’s privately-owned firm is also famous for Kinder eggs and Tic Tac sweets.
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