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Ferrero chief dies in bike fall

Pietro Ferrero, chief executive of the group that produces Ferrero Rocher, Nutella and Tic Tacs and a scion of one of Italy's richest families, has died after falling from a bicycle on a business trip in South Africa.

Mr Ferrero, 47, was also chairman of the Italian branch of the family-run company and the heart of the sweet-making empire.

Mr Ferrero, a cycling enthusiast, was riding a bike on his usual training run on a road in Cape Town when he fell off.

With him on the business trip was his father, Michele Ferrero, who turned the company into an international sweet producer and invented successes including Nutella and Kinder in the 1960s. He helped make the Ferreros a billionaire family that is now Italy's richest.

Mr Ferrero's namesake grandfather Pietro started the company in 1942, supplying products for a pastry shop run by his wife, Piera, in Alba, in the region of Piedmont.

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 expansion, starting with Germany in 1956, and then moving into Eastern Europe, Russia and Latin America in the 1990s.

The company has more than 20,000 employees worldwide.

Mr 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.

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