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Heart attack suspected in chocolate boss Ferrero death

Published on 19/04/2011

Italian chocolate tycoon Pietro Ferrero is suspected to have died of a heart attack while cycling in South Africa but a post-mortem will establish the cause of death, police said on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old joint chief executive of the group that owns Nutella and Ferrero Rocher was cycling along a scenic Atlantic Ocean coastal road in Cape Town on Monday when he fell off his bike and died.

“It is suspected that he could have suffered a heart attack but a post mortem will still have to be done on him to determine the cause of death,” said police spokesman Frederick van Wyk.

A passer-by stopped to assist Ferrero before an ambulance arrived “but he was declared dead on the scene,” said Van Wyk.

“He was cycling on Victoria Road between Llandudno and Camps Bay. He was cycling by himself.”

Ferrero fell during a regular bicycle ride, probably because he was taken ill, while on a business trip in South Africa, a company spokesman told AFP on Monday, voicing the group’s “deep dismay”.

Ferrero had co-run the sweets company with his younger brother Giovanni since 1997.

Their 85-year-old father Michele, who turned the firm into a global leader of the confectionery industry after taking over in 1957, is still the chairman.

Michele Ferrero, 85, is Italy’s richest man according to the latest ranking by Forbes magazine, ahead of eyewear tycoon Leonardo Del Vecchio and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a billionaire television mogul turned politician.