|Born||February 19, 1928
|Title||Swatch Group, Founder/Chairman|
Nicolas George Hayek (born February 19, 1928 in Beirut, Lebanon) is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Swatch Group, with principal Headquarters in Biel/Bienne. Hayek was born to a Lebanese mother and Lebanese father, both from well-regarded Greek-Orthodox Christian Lebanese families with deep roots in Lebanon's Northern Governorate of El-Koura. His father was a dentist.
Hayek originally headed a business consulting firm, who was called on by a group of Swiss bankers to oversee a liquidation of Swiss watch manufacturing firms ASUAG and SSIH, who were encountering stiff competition from Japanese watch manufacturers. Hayek believed that the Swiss watch manufacturing industry could remain competitive with a restructuring and a focus on different business areas. After having engineered and implemented the reorganization of the ASUAG and SSIH watch companies for more than four years, finally bringing about their merger, Hayek, with a group of Swiss investors, took over a majority shareholding in the new group in 1985. He became Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer in 1986.
Hayek played a decisive role in the recovery of the Swatch Group with its watch brands Swatch, Blancpain, Omega, Longines, Rado, Tissot, Certina, Mido, Hamilton, Pierre Balmain, Calvin Klein, Flik Flak, Breguet and Lanco. The strategies he developed in the early 1980s led to the success of the entire Swiss watch industry and regained its leading position worldwide since 1984.
Hayek was awarded the title of Doctor honoris causa of Law and Economics of the Faculty of Beni Culturali of the University of Bologna (Italy) in June 1998, after being awarded doctor honoris causa of Law and Economics of the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland) in 1996.
Hayek is also credited with having a fundamental role in the creation of the Smart Car, a small European car created for inner city use by Mercedes Benz. Original names for the car revolved around the Swatch name - and even today aspects of the car such as its interchangeable body panels are clearly linked with the Swatch philosophy of individuality.
In 2007, Hayek was rated the world's 273rd richest person with an estimated wealth of $3.2 billion USD.