Nutella Maker, Michele Ferrero, Dies on Valentine's Day

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The Italian candy maker's famous sweets include Tic Tacs and Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Italian candy maker Michele Ferrero, whose father founded Nutella, the chocolaty hazelnut spread, died on Valentine's Day at the age of 89.

A statement released by the company disclosed that Ferrero was ill for months prior to his death in Monte Carlo on Saturday, The Associated Press reported.

In 2014, Forbes ranked Michele and his family 30th on the world's richest billionaires list, tallying a whopping $23.4 billion. Along with Nutella, Ferrero's famous sweets include the 1982 development of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, the 1969 creation of Tic Tacs and the 1968 invention of the Kinder line of sweets.

Pietro Ferrero, Michele's father, made Nutella during World War II and opened his first lab in Alba in 1942 before it was passed on to his son in 1949 following his death.

Michele turned over the company's leadership to sons Pietro and Giovanni in 1997, but Giovanni took on the sole role of CEO in 2011, when his brother died of cardiac arrest.

The company said that a wake is scheduled in the Alba factory, and a funeral will take place in the Alba cathedral.

Michele is survived by his son, Giovanni, and wife Maria Franca.

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