Edouard Michelin, the co-managing partner of the French tire company that bears his family name, was killed Friday in a boating accident, officials said. He was 42.
Michelin, who had headed the tire group since 1999, was killed near Sein island off western France’s Atlantic coast, a company statement said.
Michelin, famed for its tire business, is also known for its restaurant guides and its maps.
He joined the company in 1985, nearly a century after it was founded in 1889 by two brothers Edouard and Andre Michelin.
The company said its other managing partner, Michel Rollier, would now run the firm that employs 130,000 people worldwide, 30,000 of them in France.
Michelin had been aboard a fishing boat that sank in still unexplained circumstances.
The boat left the Brittany port of Audierne on Thursday night. His body was recovered on Friday afternoon, authorities said.
Michelin’s fishing companion, Guillaume Normant, was still missing.
Michelin held various posts in research, production and sales. He was a production manager at the company’s Puy-en-Velay factory before becoming CEO of its North America subsidiary.
He became a managing partner in 1991, and was appointed Michelin’s head on June 11, 1999. The youngest of four sons, he took over from his father, Francois Michelin, becoming the fourth consecutive family member to run the company.
President Jacques Chirac hailed Michelin for modernizing the firm, “making it a universally recognized French industrial champion.”
Chirac’s Interior Minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy described Michelin as “a brilliant, dynamic and deeply humane man.”
“He nurtured a passion for his company and knew how to share it,” Sarkozy said. “With his death, the French economy tragically loses one of its rising figures.”
He is survived by his wife and six children.