August 5, 2021

The ranking of the 10 richest French people

Who are the 10 richest French people? Unsurprisingly, luxury sector tycoons still dominate our rankings. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, their fortunes have grown considerably, thanks to the good health of the stock markets and significant investments. Bernard Arnault dominates head and shoulders. Only one woman – Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, 3rd position -, heir to the L’Oréal group emerges.

Bernard Arnault

Position France #1

World position # 3

Born in 1949 • LVMH

€ 127.2 billion | $ 150 billion

➡ Four letters that make you dream, all over the world. LVMH for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, the world number 1 in luxury goods, born in 1987. Four letters, but 75 brands, from Veuve Clicquot to Guerlain. Groupe Arnault is the majority shareholder at 46.8%, via the holding company Christian Dior, followed by foreign institutions at 34.4%, French institutions at 13% and individuals at 5% (LVMH figures for 2017). For Bernard Arnault, the LVMH adventure begins from its inception, with the purchase of shares through a company set up in the luxury sector, but also through the media with Les Échos and Le Parisien. His fortune is now estimated at 150 billion dollars. After having achieved a record year in 2019, the group announced a drop in sales of 15% for the year 2020 with the coronavirus crisis. At the start of 2021, it is pursuing its diversification strategy with the acquisition via the family holding company, the L Catterton fund and Financière Agache, of the German sandal brand Birkenstock and a 50% stake in Armand de Brignac, the brand of premium champagne owned by rapper and businessman Jay-Z.

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers (and her family)

Position France # 2

World position # 15

Born in 1953 • L’Oréal

€ 61.4 billion // $ 73.6 billion

➡ The only daughter of André and Liliane Bettencourt, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers inherited L’Oréal. Founded by Françoise Bettencourt Meyers’ grandfather, Eugène Schueller, in 1909, L’Oréal is today the leading cosmetics group in the world. As of December 31, 2017, the company’s capital was divided between Françoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family (Jean-Pierre Meyers, Jean-Victor Meyers, Nicolas Meyers, the succession of Liliane Bettencourt, and the company Téthys SAS) at 33.13 %, international institutions at 29.28%, the Nestlé company at 23.17%, French institutions at 8.24%, individual shareholders at 4.74%, and employees at 1.3%. Since October 2020, Nicolas Hieronimus, Deputy Managing Director, took over from Jean-Paul Agon at the helm of the group which weathered the Covid storm without too much trouble: the decline in sales estimated at 4% was limited by the acceleration of e-commerce which increased by 62%. Not to mention the cost control which enabled the group to save money. The turnover was thus maintained at 28 Billions of Euro’s.

François Pinault (and his family)

Position France : # 3

World position: # 27

No in 1936 • Kering & Christie’s

€ 35.3 billion / $ 42.3 billion

➡ Self-taught having left school at 16, Francois Pinault makes sense business and began by buying the business from his father-in-law before taking control of the competition. The group Specialized in large-scale distribution and distance selling with Redcats, PPR experienced a turning point with the takeover of Gucci in 1999 and the sale of Printemps, Conforama, Fnac and La Redoute. In 2013, PPR, which became Kering, entered the luxury market for a long time. The capital is held at 44.7% by foreign institutions, at 41% by the Artémis group, at 8.4% by French institutions, at 4.8% by individual shareholders and at 0.1% by shareholders employees. François-Henri Pinault, the son, has been at the head of Artemis since 2003 and Kering since 2005. Despite the turbulence of the Covid-19 (fall of 15% in sales), the group has a turnover of 12.6 billion euros and the family fortune (40% of the capital) has increased. With this year the highly anticipated inauguration – because delayed by the pandemic – of the Pinault-Printemps-La Redoute (PPR) museum came out of the ground in 1994, with Fnac also in its private ranks of “ the Bourse du Commerce Pinault Collection ” ‘where 160 million of own funds are invested.

Alain Wertheimer

Position France : #4

World position: # 48 (rang 2020)

Born in 1948 • Chanel

€ 28.8bn / $ 34.5bn

Gérard Wertheimer

Position France #5

World position # 48 (rang 2020)

Born in 1950 • Chanel

€ 28.8bn / $ 34.5bn

➡ French born in New York, Alain Wertheimer is owner, with his brother Gérard, of Chanel SA present in 110 countries and which employs more than 20,000 people. It all began in 1924. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, who had already opened several boutiques and launched her famous No. 5, met the Wertheimer brothers, Pierre and Paul, at Longchamp, then owners of Bourjois. It only retains 10% of No. 5. Then in 1954, she sold them the fashion house Chanel. In 1976, Alain, the eldest son, took over the management of the house, and, associated with his brother Gérard in 1983, he appointed Karl Lagerfeld to restore the image of Chanel. With the turnover of ready-to-wear which jumped by 28% last year, Virginie Viard succeeded him successfully. But the closure of points of sale and the fall in international tourism have prompted the group to reduce their operating costs to compensate for a decline in exercises estimated at 20%.

➡ In addition to Chanel SA, which Gérard Wertheimer inherited with Alain, the two brothers are also owners of Bourjois cosmetics, Holland & Holland shotguns, the Eres swimwear brand, and Éditions de la Martinière. They also have a stable of racehorses considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. Alain and Gérard are also oenophiles and have bought several wine châteaux in Gironde, in particular Château Rauzan-Ségla, which produces a classified growth of Margaux, and Château Canon, at the origin of a Grand Cru Classé Saint-Émilion. If Alain lives in the United States where he was born, Gérard prefers Switzerland, where the two brothers are tax residents. The Chanel company has no shareholders, the Wertheimer brothers are 100% owners.

Fortune, in billions of $ H/F Business Age
Bernard Arnault & his family 150 M LVMH 72
Françoise Bettencourt Meyers & her family 73,6 F L’Oreal 67
François Pinault & his family 42, 3 M Dry 84
Alain Wertheimer 34,5 M Chanel 72
Gerard Wertheimer 34,5 M Chanel 70
Emmanuel Besnier 19,1 M Lactalis 50
Patrick drahi 11,8 M Télécom 57
Rodolphe Saadé & his family 10,9 M Maritime transport 51
Xavier Niel 8,8 M Internet, Telecom 53
Alain Mérieux & his family 8,2 M Pharmaceutical industry 83

Emmanuel Besnier

Position France # 6

World position # 94 (rang 2020)

Born in 1970 • Lactalis

€ 15.9 billion / $ 19.1 billion

Patrick drahi

Position France : #7

World position: # 206 (rang 2020)

Born in 1963 • Altice

€ 9.8 billion / $ 11.8 billion

Rodolphe Saadé and his family

Position France : #8

World position: # 208 (rang 2020)

Born in 1970 • CMA CGM

€ 9bn / $ 10.9bn

Xavier Niel

Position France : #9

World position: # 253 (rang 2020)

Born in 1967 • Iliad-Free, Le Monde, School 42, Station F

€ 7.3bn / $ 8.8bn

Alain Merieux

Position France : #10

World position: #


€ 6.8bn / $ 8.2bn