Bernard Arnault, a French fashion tycoon on Monday, May 25th becomes the world’s richest person with an estimated net worth of $186.3 billion, according to Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List. The LVMH Chairman Bernard is now $300 million above Amazon‘s Jeff Bezos with $186 billion and Tesla CEO Elon Musk on $147.3 billion.
Bernard Arnault net worth and profile summary.
|Born||March 5, 1949 (age 72 years), Roubaix, France|
|Children||Antoine Arnault, Delphine Arnault, Frédéric Arnault, Alexandre Arnault, Jean Arnault|
|Net worth 2021||186 billion USD|
|Spouse||Hélène Mercier (m. 1991), Anne Dewavrin (m. 1973–1990)|
|Occupation||Investor, businessman, and art collector|
|Companies||LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE|
|Education||École Polytechnique (1969–1971), Lycée Faidherbe|
As per the report, 72-year-old Arnault’s net worth has jumped from $76 billion in March 2020 to $186.3 billion today, a massive rise of over $110 billion in the past 14 months, thanks to a pandemic defying performance by his luxury group LVMH which stand for ”Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy”.
LVMH, which also includes other major fashion brands under it like Fendi, Christian Dior and Givenchy, rose 0.4% during the first hours of trading on Monday, putting its market cap at $320 billion and pushing Arnault’s personal stake up more than $600 million.
LVMH reported first-quarter sales growth last month that beat analysts’ estimates, fueled by China and other Asian nations. Shares in the Paris-based owner of Christian Dior have surged more than 20% this year, helping Arnault, 72, to briefly overtake Elon Musk as the world’s second-richest person.
Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires rankings tracks the daily ups and downs of the world’s richest people. The wealth-tracking platform provides ongoing updates on the net worth and ranking of each individual confirmed by Forbes to be a billionaire. The value of individuals’ public holdings are updated every 5 minutes when respective stock markets are open (there will be a 15-minute delay for stock prices).
Meanwhile, Bloomberg earlier today reported that Arnault has spent about 440 million euros ($538 million) in recent months acquiring shares of the world’s largest luxury-goods maker, a sign of confidence that demand for $39,000 Louis Vuitton handbags and Dom Perignon champagne will thrive after the pandemic.
Arnault bought the stock through companies that he and his family control, with the latest transactions disclosed in regulatory filings this week.
Who is the world’s richest Bernard Arnault ?
Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault is a French billionaire investor, businessman and art collector. He is the chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, the world’s largest luxury-goods company. A centibillionaire, Arnault is one of the wealthiest people in the world.
Bernard Arnault’s Early life
His mother, Marie-Josèphe Savinel, had a “fascination for Dior“, and was the daughter of Étienne Savinel, who entrusted her husband with the management of his civil engineering company Ferret-Savinel in 1950, and later its ownership.
Ferret-Savinel later became Ferinel, and then the George V Group, before selling its real estate assets to Compagnie Générale des Eaux (CGE), and the real estate business eventually became Nexity.
Arnault was educated at the Lycée Maxence Van Der Meersch in Roubaix, and the Lycée Faidherbe in Lille. In 1971, he graduated from the École Polytechnique, France’s leading engineering school, and began work for his father’s company.
1971-1987: Professional start
Arnault began his career in 1971, working for Ferret-Savinel, a construction company owned by his father, and was its president from 1978 to 1984.
In 1984, Arnault, then a young real estate developer, heard that the French government was set to choose someone to take over the Boussac Saint-Frères empire, a textile and retail conglomerate that owned Christian Dior.
He became the CEO of Financière Agache and subsequently took control of Boussac Saint-Frères. Along with Christian Dior, Boussac’s assets included the department store Le Bon Marché, the retail shop Conforama, and the diapers manufacturer Peaudouce.
Arnault won the bidding war for Boussac Saint-Frères, and bought the group for a ceremonial one franc. He proceeded to lay off 9,000 workers in two years, after which he acquired the nickname “The Terminator”.
He then sold nearly all of the company’s assets, keeping only the Christian Dior brand and Le Bon Marché department store.
As a result of the jobs cuts and reforms, Arnault was able to nurse Financière Agache back to health. By 1987, the company was profitable again, and booked earnings of $112 million on a revenue stream of $1.9 billion dollars.
1988-1989: Acquisition of LVMH
In July 1988, Arnault provided $1.5 billion to form a holding company with Guinness that held 24% of LVMH’s shares.
In response to rumors that the Louis Vuitton group was buying LVMH’s stock to form a “blocking minority”, Arnault spent $600 million to buy 13.5% more of LVMH, making him LVMH’s largest shareholder.
LVMH had been created on the premise that the conglomerate would be too large for a single hostile raider. However, the premise failed to take into account internal takeover attempts.
The fault became too large to ignore when Arnault had a differing strategic vision from Henry Racamier, Louis Vuitton’s president.
In January 1989, he spent another $500 million to gain control of a total of 43.5% of LVMH’s shares and 35% of its voting rights, thus reaching the “blocking minority” that he needed to stop the dismantlement of the LVMH group.
He turned on Racamier, stripped him of his power and ousted him from the board of directors. On 13 January 1989, he was unanimously elected chairman of the executive management board.
1989-2001: Initial expansion and growth
After assuming leadership, Arnault led the company through an ambitious development plan, transforming it into one of the largest luxury groups in the world, alongside Swiss luxury giant Richemont and French-based Kering.
That same year, he sponsored French fashion designer Christian Lacroix in order to advertise the company’s luxury clothing line.In 1993, LVMH acquired Berluti and Kenzo. In the same year, Arnault bought out the French economic newspaper La Tribune.
The company never achieved the desired success, despite his 150 million euro investment, and he sold it in November 2007 in order to buy a different French economic newspaper, Les Échos, for 240 million euros.
In the 1990s, Arnault decided to develop a center in New York to manage LVMH’s presence in the United States. He chose Christian de Portzamparc to supervise this project.
The result was the LVMH Tower that opened in December 1999. That same year, Arnault turned his eyes on Gucci, an Italian leather goods company, which was run by Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole. He discretely amassed a 5 percent stake in the company before being detected.
Gucci responded hostilely, and called it a “creeping takeover.” Upon being noticed, Arnault upped his stake to 34.4 percent while insisting he wanted to be a supportive and unassertive stakeholder.
De Sole proposed that in return for board representation, Arnault would stop increasing his stake in Gucci. However, Arnault refused to accept these terms.
De Sole discovered a loophole that allowed him to issue shares with only board approval, and for every share LVMH bought, he created more for his employees, diluting Arnault’s stake.
The fight dragged on until settlement in September 2001. After the legal ruling, LVMH sold its shares and walked away with $700 million in profit.
2001-present: Increasing success and profitability
On 7 March 2011, Arnault announced the acquisition of 50.4% of family-owned shares of the Italian jeweler Bulgari with the intention to make a tender offer for the rest, which was publicly owned.
The transaction was worth $5.2 billion. In 2011, Arnault invested $640 million in establishing LCapitalAsia.
On 7 March 2013, National Business Daily reported that mid-priced clothing brand QDA would open stores with the assistance of Arnault’s private equity firm LCapitalAsia and Chinese apparel company Xin Hee Co., Ltd. in Beijing.
In 2011, LVMH invested $640 million in establishing LCapitalAsia.
In February 2014, Arnault entered into a joint venture with the Italian fashion brand Marco De Vincenzo, taking a minority 45% stake in the firm.
In April 2017, Arnault announced the acquisition of Christian Dior haute couture, leather, both men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, and footwear lines, which integrated the entire Christian Dior brand within LVMH.
By January 2018, Arnault had led the company to record sales of 42.6 billion Euros in 2017, up 13% over the previous year, as all divisions turned in strong performances. That same year, the net profit increased 29%.
In November 2019, Arnault planned to acquire Tiffany & Co. for approximately US $16.2 billion. The deal was expected to close by June 2020.
LVMH then issued a statement in September 2020 indicating that the takeover would not proceed, and that the deal was “invalid” because of Tiffany’s handling of the business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Subsequently, Tiffany filed suit against LVMH, asking the court to compel the purchase or to assess damages against the defendant; LVMH planned to counter sue, alleging that mismanagement had invalidated the purchase agreement.
In mid-September 2020, a reliable source told Forbes (magazine) that the reason for Arnault’s decision to cancel the Tiffany purchase was purely financial: Tiffany was paying millions in dividends to shareholders despite a financial loss of US$32 million during the pandemic.
Upon examination of financial records, Arnault discovered that some US$70 million had already been paid out by Tiffany, with an additional US$70 million scheduled to be paid in November 2020.
LVMH filed a counterclaim against the court action commenced by Tiffany; a statement issued by LMVH blamed Tiffany’s mismanagement during the pandemic and claimed that it was ‘burning cash and reporting losses'”.
In late October 2020 Tiffany and LVMH agreed to the original takeover plan, though at a slightly reduced price of nearly $16 billion, a minor reduction of 2.6% from the aforementioned deal. The new deal reduced the amount paid per share by LVMH from the original price of $135 to $131.50.
LVMH completed the purchase of Tiffany in January 2021. Under Arnault’s leadership, LVMH has grown to become the largest company by market capitalization in the Euro zone, with a record of 313 billion euros ($382 billion) as of May 2021.
Arnault has promoted decisions towards decentralizing the group’s brands as a business strategy. As a result of these measures, brands under the LVMH umbrella such as Tiffany are still viewed independent firms with their own history.
In 2007, Blue Capital announced that Arnault owns jointly with the California property firm Colony Capital 10.69% of France’s largest supermarket retailer and the world’s second-largest food distributor Carrefour.
The LVMH Young Fashion Designer was created as an international competition open to students from fine-arts schools. Every year, the winner is awarded a grant to support the creation of the designer’s own label and with a year of mentorship.
The Foundation’s grand opening at the Jardin d’Acclimatation Paris was held on 20 October 2014.
In 1991, he married Hélène Mercier, a Canadian concert pianist, and they have three children.
They live in Paris. His children Delphine, Antoine, Alexandre and Frédéric all have official roles in brands controlled by Arnault, along with his niece Stephanie Watine Arnault.
Arnault briefly surpassed Jeff Bezos to become the richest person in the world in December 2019.
He again became the world’s richest person for a short time in January 2020.
Forbes estimates his fortune to be $181 billion. Arnault owned the 70 m (230 ft) converted research vessel Amadeus, which was sold in late 2015.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Arnault saw his wealth shrink by 30 billion dollars as sales of luxury goods plummeted.
On 24 May 2021, he regained the status of wealthiest man in the world, with his net worth climbing to $186.3 billion. This occurred as sales of LVMH’s luxury goods surged in China and other parts of Asia.
In April 2013, Arnault said that he had been misquoted and that he never intended to leave France: “I repeatedly said that I would stay as a resident in France and that I would continue to pay my taxes…. Today, I decided to remove any ambiguity.
I withdraw my request of Belgian nationality. Requesting Belgian nationality was to better protect the foundation that I created with the sole purpose of ensuring the continuity and integrity of the LVMH group if I were to disappear.
On 10 April 2013, Arnault announced he had decided to abandon his application for Belgian citizenship, saying he did not want the move to be misinterpreted as a measure of tax evasion, at a time when France faced economic and social challenges.
Arnault also stated several employees requested to leave France for tax purposes but he declined their requests, explaining “the 75% tax would not raise a lot of revenue but should prove less divisive, as now it was set to be levied on firms rather than people, and only due to stay in place for two years.”
Bernard Arnault Awards
- Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur (10 February 2007).
- Grand Officier de la Légion d’Honneur (14 July 2011).
- The Woodrow Wilson Award for Global Corporate Citizenship (2011).
- Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (2012).
- The Museum of Modern Art’s David Rockefeller Award (March 2014).
List of French billionaires by net worth
1 Bernard Arnault: 72 150.0 billion – LVMH
2 Françoise Bettencourt Meyers: 67 73.6 billion – L’Oréal
3 François Pinault: 84 42.3 billion – Kering
4 Alain Wertheimer: 72 34.5 billion – Chanel
4 Gérard Wertheimer: 70 34.5 billion – Chanel
6 Emmanuel Besnier: 50 19.1 billion – Lactalis
7 Patrick Drahi: 57 11.8 billion – Altice
8 Rodolphe Saadé: 51 10.9 billion – CMA CGM
9 Xavier Niel: 53 8.8 billion- Iliad SA
10 Alain Mérieux 83 8.2 billion Institut Merieux
11 Laurent Dassault 67 7.3 billion Dassault Group
11 Thierry Dassault 64 7.3 billion Dassault Group
11 Marie-Hélène Habert 54 7.3 billion Dassault Group
14 Vincent Bolloré 69 7 billion Groupe Bolloré
15 Jean-Michel Besnier 53 6.7 billion Lactalis
15 Marie Besnier Beauvalot 40 6.7 billion Lactalis
17 Michel Leclercq 81 5.7 billion Decathlon Group
17 Nicolas Puech 78 5.7 billion Hermès
19 Carrie Perrodo 70 5.4 billion Perenco
20 Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière 80 4.9 billion Finance
21 Pierre Bellon 91 4.8 billion Sodexo
22 Martin and Olivier Bouygues – 4.6 billion Bouygues
23 Stéphane Bancel 48 4.3 billion Moderna
24 Gilles Martin 57 3.9 billion Eurofins Scientific
25 Mohed Altrad 73 3.4 billion Scaffolding, Cement mixers
26 Charles Edelstenne 83 3.3 billion Dassault Systèmes
27 Philippe Foriel-Destezet 85 3 billion The Adecco Group
27 Louis Le Duff 74 3 billion Brioche Dorée and Groupe Le Duff
29 Bernard Fraisse 64 2.1 billion Fareva
29 Philippe Ginestet 67 2.1 billion GiFi
31 Anne Beaufour 57 2 billion Ipsen
31 Henri Beaufour 55 2 billion Ipsen
31 Alain Taravella 73 2 billion Altarea SCA
34 Francois Feuillet 72 1.9 billion Trigano
34 Olivier Pomel 44 1.9 billion Datadog
36 Yves-Loic Martin 55 1.7 billion Eurofins Scientific
37 Jean Pierre Cayard 78 1.6 billion La Martiniquaise
37 Norbert Dentressangle 66 1.6 billion Norbert Dentressangle
39 Christian Latouche 80 1.5 billion Fiducial SA
40 Francis Holder 80 1.4 billion Groupe Holder
41 Édouard Carmignac 73 1.2 billion Carmignac
41 Clément Fayat 89 1.2 billion Fayat group.