The top 15 French billionaires
Author: Clark Tos
Some of the biggest billionaires in the world are French. Here are the 15 French billionaires among the wealthiest at the head of the most powerful firms.
Bernard Arnault and his family from the French group LVMH
Maison Louis Vuitton of the LVMH group in Paris Credit: Olivier DJIANN
Bernard Arnault is the first Frenchman to have a fortune exceeding the threshold of 100 billion euros. More specifically, Bernard Arnault and his family currently hold nearly 149 billion euros. At the head of the LVMH group, the world's leading luxury designer, since 1989, this billionaire managed to record exceptional performances, even during the health crisis. As proof, in 2020, the net income of the luxury giant rose by 62% compared to the same period of the previous year. The Arnault clan also runs many prestigious companies such as Christian Dior S.A. In May 2021, Bernard Arnault won the title of the richest person in the world, but only for a few hours. His fortune, however, encountered a 5% decline between 2021 and 2022.
Billionaires Alain and Gérard Wertheimer of the Chanel group
Chanel store in Place Vendôme in ParisCredit: AndreaAstes
The brothers Alain and Gérard Wertheimer are the heirs of the prestigious fashion house Chanel. These two French billionaires own 100% of this luxury company and have a fortune amounting to 80 billion euros. The Chanel group, which was founded in the 1920s by their grandfather, Pierre Wertheimer, recorded a net profit of more than 4 billion euros in 2021. Alain Wertheimer arrived at the helm of the luxury house in age of 25, after the disappearance of their father, Jacques Wertheimer.
The Hermes family
An Hermès magazine in Paris Credit : tupungato
Family Hermes (with more than 100 members currently) ranks third on the podium among the biggest French billionaires. This clan owns 78.7 billion euros and recorded 9 billion euros in turnover and 2.4 billion euros in profits in 2021. Record figures since the creation of the luxury house in 1837. Currently, the CEO of the group is Axel Dumas, the son of Olivier Dumas, doctor, and Michèle Dumas, deputy general manager of Hermès. He is also the nephew of Jean-Louis Dumas, former CEO of the group from 1978 to 2006. The latter has considerably contributed to the international development of the group.
Françoise Bettencourt Meyers of the French group L'Oréal
L'Oréal Headquarters Credit: Robert Way
The French Françoise Bettencourt Meyers represents the fourth generation at the head of the giant L'Oréal, world leader in the field of cosmetics. The Bettencourt family has a fortune reaching 62.4 billion euros and holds 34.7% of the capital of L'Oréal. This granddaughter of the founder of L'Oréal and daughter of Liliane Bettencourt was appointed general manager of the firm in 2017. Despite the context of the crisis due to Covid 19, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers has regained her place richest woman in the world , dethroning MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of billionaire Jeff Bezos, boss of Amazon. She is also a patron of foundations and institutes whose research focuses on deafness.
The billionaire Rodolphe Saadé CEO of CMA-CGM
CMA-CGM Group container shipCredit: eyewave
French-Lebanese Rodolphe Saadé is the current CEO of CMA-CGM, Europe's leading charter shipping company. His fortune is estimated at 36 billion euros. In 2021, the CMA-CGM group experienced its best year, multiplying its net profit by 10. This feat is due to the great demand for imported products and transport tariffs in the context of the health crisis. Indeed, the recovery of world trade has had more than beneficial effects for the company headed by Rodolphe Saadé as well as for its wealth. The CMA-CGM company offers a global offer of maritime transport, port handling and land logistics.
Billionaire Gérard Mulliez CEO of Auchan and his family
Auchan logo on the supermarket building in Bordeaux, France Credit: BalkansCat
French billionaire Gérard Mulliez is the founder of the Auchan group, one of the leading retailers in France. He launched his first store in 1961 in Roubaix and encountered some difficulties. But very quickly, he climbed back up and thanks to his new policy: “Reduce the margin and sell more”, he opened many other stores throughout France in the 1970s. During the 1980s, Gérard Mulliez created a subsidiary in real estate and is opening up internationally. After 45 years at the head of the Auchan group, Gérard Mulliez gave way to his heir Vianney Mulliez in 2006. The Mulliez family has a fortune estimated at 49.39 billion euros.
The Pinault family, owner of the Kering group
Yves Saint Laurent store owned by the Pinault family Credit: Robert Way
The Pinault Kering group is currently chaired by François Pinault and holds a wealth of 36.6 billion euros. The family owns the luxury group including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen… It works in the sectors of leather goods, perfumery, shoes, ready-to-wear, watches and jewelry. The Gucci brand is the most successful since it has been responsible for 78% of the Kering group's operating results since 2020. The Yves-Saint-Laurent brand generated 11% of the group's result. The career of François Pinault is very inspiring, because he comes from a modest peasant family and left school at the age of 16. In the 1950s, he started working in a sawmill and timber trading company, but bought the business in 1962 by marrying the owner's daughter. With his very sharp business sense, François Pinault bought the Conforama group from Bernard Arnault, then the Printemps department stores. In the end, he became the majority shareholder of Gucci, but also of Alexander McQueen. His fortune is estimated at 31.4 billion euros.
The billionaires Laurent, Thierry and Marie-Hélène Dassault of the Dassault group
The Marcel Dassault group operates in the field of aeronauticsCredit: audioundwerbung
The brothers and sisters Laurent, Thierry and Marie-Hélène Dassault of the Dassault Group have a fortune estimated at 31.4 billion euros in 2022. This family business first specialized in aeronautics, but has diversified its activities, in particular with the Dassault Aviation and Dassault Systèmes branches. Dassault Aviation has become over the years one of the pillars of French armament. He is behind the famous Mirage 2000 fighter plane. The Dassault siblings are also at the head of a few industrial firms such as Veolia, BioMérieux and Rubis. She also oversees the Figaro group, the Artcurial auction house and several vineyards (Château Dassault, Dassault Wine Estates, Château Trimoulet, Flechas de Los Andes, etc.).
The milliardaire Pierre Omidyar patron of eBay and PayPal
eBay's headquarters in Silicon ValleyCredit: JHVEPhoto
The Franco-American Pierre Omidyar has been the boss of eBay and PayPal since 2020. In 2004, he created with his wife Pamela Omidyar, the Network company which invests in many companies and organizations halfway between philanthropy and investment. . They have dedicated more than $3 billion to causes ranging from economic advancement for the underserved to human rights, government accountability and freedom of the press. Since September 2020, this founder of the e-commerce site eBay has left the board of directors, but still owns 5% of e-Bay and 6% of PayPal. His personal fortune is estimated at 17.71 billion euros.
Billionaire Emmanuel Besnier CEO of Lactalis
Lactalis is a world leader in infant milkCredit: JHVEPhoto
Frenchman Emmanuel Besnier is the managing director of Lactalis, the world's number one dairy product company. Lactalis was created by his grandfather, André Besnier, in 1933 and has exceeded 21 billion euros in turnover. The company has managed to create 100 subsidiaries in 10 years, and is present in 56 countries. This leading dairy group in the world has nearly 70,000 employees in 266 factories. Emmanuel Besnier has a fortune estimated at 13.66 billion euros.
Billionaire Alain Mérieux CEO of the pharmaceutical group Biomérieux
An experiment in a lab Credit: ipopba
Alain Mérieux, a former student of Louis Pasteur, is the heir CEO of the pharmaceutical group Biomérieux, one of the first specialists in in vitro diagnostics. Today, the Mérieux are leading specialists in the diagnosis of infectious diseases and have stakes in Transgene and Geneuro, highly rated French biotechs. In 2020, this family business achieved 2.7 billion turnover, which represents an increase of 80%.
Billionaire Evan Spiegel founder of Snapchat
A phone in a cup showing a Snapchat logoCredit: Wachiwit
Evan Spiegel is a French naturalized American. He is the founder of Snap Inc. and co-founder of the app Snapchat launched in 2011 on Apple and in 2012 on Android. He then developed a money sending service (Snapcash in 2014) then a video distribution service for the media entitled Discover in 2015. In 2017, Snap Inc became the owner of Zenly, a French start-up that created an application of geolocation. Next comes the acquisition of the Chinese company Tencent Holdings Limited. Evan Spiegel became a billionaire at 24 with an estimated fortune of 10.76 billion euros.
French billionaire Xavier Niel vice-president of the Iliad group
Innovative telecommunication concept Credit: ipopba
Xavier Niel is the founder and vice-president of the Iliad group, specializing in media and telecommunications. He became a millionaire at the age of 24 thanks to his “Minitel rose” service in the 90s. He then invested in WorldNet, the first consumer Internet service provider in France. In 1999, Xavier Niel put Free on the market and marketed the Freebox, the first single box for the Internet in France. In 2010, he became the owner of the newspaper Le Monde before taking a 40% stake in Literary Magazine in 2017. He is also director of École 42, a self-training institution in computer science, but also of the F, largest incubator in Europe. His wealth is estimated at 8.8 billion euros.
Billionaire Patrick Drahi CEO of Altice Group
SFR retail storeCredit: Pixavril
Patrick Drahi is the CEO of the Altice group, one of the biggest French names in the field of telecoms and media. This polytechnician is the owner of Est Videocommunication, Nooz, Numéricable, FT Cable and Completel. In 2014, he became the majority shareholder of the SFR subsidiary. His fortune is 12.67 billion euros.
French billionaire Pierre Castel and his family
Wine bottles in a crate Photo credit: Liudmila Chernetska
Pierre Castel is the president of the Castel Frères group, the French leader in the distribution of wines, beers and soft drinks. This family business was founded in 1949 and enjoyed international success in the 1970s. It operates in particular in the beer and soft drink markets in Africa and owns several dozen breweries around the world. Pierre Castel would currently weigh around 14 billion euros.