Michele Ferrero (born 26 April 1925) is the owner of the eponymous chocolate maker Ferrero SpA, one of Europe's largest with estimated 2012 sales of $19 billion. Ferrero, who was born in Dogliani, Italy, is Italy's richest person, with a personal wealth of $19 billion, surpassing Silvio Berlusconi in March 2008. As of October 2012, The Bloomberg Billionaires Index lists Ferrero as the 23rd richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of U.S. 22 billion. Brands include Nutella, Mon Chéri, Kinder Chocolate, Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tacs and Kinder Eggs.
Almost two-and-a-half years ago, a handful of journalists visited a chocolate factory at Alba in Italy. The factory is owned by confectionery giant Ferrero Group, that clocked revenues of e7.8 billion - or $10.7 billion at current exchange rates - in the year ended August 2012. What was so special about the visit? It was the first media interaction in the history of the company founded in 1946. And even then its reclusive billionaire owner, Michele Ferrero, declined to be interviewed.
The saletta (little hall) is on the upper floor of a small office block surrounded by manufacturing plants, from which sprout undulating pipes and towering silos. It is here, in the Italian town of Alba, that Willy Wonka meets with his helpers to think up new and delicious treats.
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For the Italian entrepreneur there is a famous rite of passage. Be they Gianni Agnelli or Silvio Berlusconi, once they have made their fortune they go on to acquire a yacht, then a football club, and then – if they have truly scaled the heights – comes a newspaper and political influence.
(Reuters) - The Ferrero family's round Rocher chocolates are recognized worldwide but Italy's richest man, Michele Ferrero, and his two sons, have shunned publicity and kept their company very private -- up until now.