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- The personal fortunes of French billionaires have grown at more than twice the pace of American and Chinese billionaires in the first half of 2019, Bloomberg’s Alexander Sazonov reported in July.
- The net worth of Bernard Arnault – the world’s third-richest person – grew $5.1 billion between October 9 and 11, Forbes’ Hayley Cuccinello reported.
- Growing Chinese demand for luxury goods has raised the share prices of Bernard Arnault‘s LVMH, Francois Pinault’s Kering, and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers’ L’Oréal, adding to each of their fortunes.
- Only Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are now each richer than Arnault.
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It’s a good year to be a French billionaire.
Just look at LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault. A surge in LVMH share price grew Arnault’s net worth by $5.1 billion between October 9 and 11, Forbes’ Hayley Cuccinello reported. In March, Business Insider reported that Arnault overtook Warren Buffett as the world’s third-richest person. And as of July 16, Bloomberg reported, Arnault overtook Bill Gates and now ranks as the world’s second-richest person.
While Arnault has since returned to third place on Bloomberg’s ranking, the shakeup marked the first time in history that Gates ranked lower than second place on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. Arnault’s net worth now stands at a reported $96.3 billion.
French billionaires got even richer in 2019
The personal fortunes of French billionaires have grown at more than twice the pace of the fortunes of their American and Chinese counterparts in 2019, Bloomberg found. The collective net worths of the 14 French billionaires on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index grew 35% between December 31 and July 17, while the net worths of American and Chinese billionaires grew 17% and 15% respectively.
Chinese billionaires may not have enjoyed the success of their French counterparts, but they may have helped create it, according to Bloomberg. Three of the 14 French citizens listed in Bloomberg’s list of the 500 wealthiest people in the world have made their fortunes from luxury cosmetics and goods. The sector is booming, largely thanks to increasing Chinese demand.
Shares of LVMH, the luxury conglomerate headed by Bernard Arnault, jumped 47% in the first half of 2019, Markets Insider data shows. Kering, the parent company of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent led by Francois Pinault, has seen its shares rise 29% since the start of the year. And shares of L’Oréal, of which Francoise Bettencourt Meyers owns a third, are up 25% this year. As a result, Arnault, Pinault, and Bettencourt Meyers added $53 billion to their combined net worths in the first half 2019, Bloomberg reported.
The success of France’s billionaires follows a turbulent 2018. European billionaires ended the year $2.3 trillion poorer, a 7% drop in their collective net worth, according to Wealth-X’s 2019 Billionaires Census. In 2018, billionaires in North America fared better than those on any other continent, seeing a 5.3% drop in their collective net worth.