July 29, 2021

Emmanuel Besnier, billionaire boss of Lactalis becomes the 8th fortune in France according to Forbes

The billionaire boss of Lactalis, the Mayennais Emmanuel Besnier is progressing in the Forbes ranking, which estimates his fortune at 11.3 billion dollars. His two siblings are tied for 14th place. And the Nantes native Gilles Martin, boss of Eurofins Scientific, is positioned 25th.

The very discreet “emperor of cheese” Emmanuel Besnier continues to progress in the ranking of French fortunes. Forbes, which released its 2017 ranking on Monday, March 20, estimates the fortune of the CEO of Lactalis at $ 11.3 billion. Its growth is impressive: in 2013, it was estimated at 4.3 billion dollars. In 2017, it exceeded 11 billion.

The rich get richer

Emmanuel Besnier, at 46, is one of the 39 French billionaires, whose fortune amounts to a total of 245 billion dollars. Bernard Arnault, the boss of the luxury group LVMH prances at the top of the ranking, with his $ 41.5 billion and climbs to 11th place in the world ranking.

But the sharp rise in fortunes, in a context of crisis, is not surprising, quite the contrary. The number of billionaires is climbing and fortunes are soaring. The total fortune of French billionaires jumped 21% compared to 2016.

What is surprising, in the case of Emmanuel Besnier, is that he thrives in a field which is going through a deep crisis. The price of a tonne of milk is at the heart of a conflict between Lactalis and the milk producers, who accuse the group’s CEO of being “the worst payer in France“. However, the group remains the European leader in the production of dairy products and is also establishing itself in China and South-East Asia. Present in 43 countries, it employs 75,000 people and has a turnover of 17 billion. of dollars, as we indicated in a portrait.

A family fortune

But Emmanuel Besnier is not the only billionaire in the Lactalis group. The Besnier family is the only one to count three of its members in this ranking. His brother Jean-Michel Besnier and his sister Marie Besnier Beauvalot are 14th ex-aquo in the ranking with a fortune estimated at 4 billion dollars. The latter, with their big brother Emmanuel, have interests in Italy with Parmalat and Frommageries Bel, which produces Baby Bel, La vache qui rit and Boursin.

The rich are heirs

Among the greatest fortunes, “we mostly have heirs or people who have redeveloped a family heritage“, analyzes the CEO of Forbes France, Dominique Busso. This is the case of Emmanuel Besnier, who took over the family company founded by his father in Laval.

A truly French fact, since no one derives their wealth from a technological company. Globally, the Top 10 includes the founders of Microsoft, Bill Gates, Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Oracle, Larry Ellison. French billionaires are 23% to be heirs (against 15% worldwide) and 27% are heirs who have developed their inheritance (against 20%).

The Nantes driver Gilles Martin is 25th

But the Nantes native Gilles Martin, boss of Eurofins Scientific, the world number 1 in food safety, built his business himself. Today it is ranked 25th among the greatest fortunes in France. He set up his first business, Objectif Maths, still in business, with a classmate from Centrale when he was just 20 years old.

Gilles Martin, in one of his laboratories in Nantes.

© FRANK PERRY / AFP

But the young man thought bigger and had the entrepreneurial spirit. Today, its Eurofins Scientific group is the world leader in biological analysis, with 3,500 employees and 70 laboratories in 15 countries. It is targeting 4 billion turnover by 2020, which is double that of 2017.

His fortune has increased slightly since 2014: it went from 1.2 billion in 2014 to 1.9 billion dollars in 2017.