Antonio Fernandez: The Angel of Cerezales & the CEO of Grupo Modelo
Antonino Fernández, founder of Corona Brewery, has left money in his will to help the Spanish village where he grew up.
By Shira Kogut on Nov. 25, 2016
In August of 2016, Antonio Fernandez or Antonino to those who know and love him, the CEO of Grupo Modelo and the founder of Corona Beer, passed away and reportedly left $200 million of his fortune to friends and relatives in order to improve the village he grew up in, Cerezales del Condado in Spain. This billionaire who passed away at 99 was the epitome of the phrase “You can’t know where you are going if you don’t remember where you come from.” both in life and in death.
He had two causes he was very passionate about throughout his life 1) Helping people with disabilities live normal lives and 2) Supporting his hometown. He established two organisations which give employment opportunities to disabled adults one in Leon called Soltra and the other in Mexico called Cinia (named for his wife). In 2009, he also set up the ‘Cerezales Antonino y Cinia’ Foundation in his hometown to support rural initiatives in the area. He was honoured by the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, for his charitable deeds, including his work with disabled young people.
According to the Daily Mail Online “this is the equivalent to each villager inheriting roughly £2 million,” but it should be noted that the money will be spent on improving the village and was not inherited by individuals. With the help of this money the village is reported to be getting a brand new cultural centre and a local non-profit foundation with 300 employees will also benefit.
Maximino Sanchez, who owns the only bar in the village, which is stocked full of Mexican beers, told the Diario de León newspaper:
‘We never had any pesete (money) before. I don’t know, what we would have done without Antonino (name of affection for Antonio).’
From Rags to Riches
In 1917, Fernández was born into a poor family and had to leave school at age 14 because his parents could not afford the fees. After the Spanish Civil War, he moved to Northern Spain, where he married his wife Cinia González Díez.
In 1949, his wife’s uncle, who owned Grupo Modelo, invited the couple to move to Mexico, where Fernández began working for the brewery, as a warehouse employee.
By 1971, he had worked his way up the corporate ladder to CEO. He is credited with making Corona not only Mexico’s most popular beer but also the export phenomenon it is today. He maintained his position as CEO until 1997 and as Chairman of the Board until 2005, with both roles later taken over by his nephew Carlos Fernández González. He was honored with the position of Honorary Life Chairman of Grupo Modelo, a position he held until his death.
Corona Extra is the second most imported bottled beer in the United States, with annual sales of $693million (£556million).
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