Who is the world’s richest man? According to Forbes, Bernard Arnault is the richest man in the world.
Born on March 5, 1949, Bernard Arnault, officially known as Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault (KBE OMRI) is a prominent and reputable French figure known as a business magnate, investor, and art collector.
He is recognized as the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which stands as the largest luxury goods company globally. As per the recent report by BBC News in June 2023, Arnault and his family possess a staggering estimated net worth of US$187 billion, solidifying his position as the world’s second wealthiest individual.
Overseeing an impressive empire of 75 fashion and cosmetics brands, including renowned names such as Louis Vuitton and Sephora, Bernard Arnault is the driving force behind the success of LVMH. In a groundbreaking move, LVMH acquired the esteemed American jeweler Tiffany & Co in 2021 for a staggering $15.8 billion, marking it as the largest acquisition ever made in the luxury brand industry.
According to Forbes, Arnault’s influence extends beyond LVMH as his holding company, Agache, actively supports the growth of Aglaé Ventures, a venture capital firm with strategic investments in prominent businesses like Netflix and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok. The report has it that Arnault is worth $211B, beating the next on line, Elon Musk, with about $30B
With a humble beginning rooted in his father’s construction business, Arnault kick-started his own path to success by utilizing a $15 million investment from that venture to acquire Christian Dior in 1984, laying the foundation for his future accomplishments.
Family plays a significant role in Arnault’s business endeavors, as all five of his children are actively involved in the operations of LVMH. Demonstrating his commitment to familial equity, in July 2022, he proposed a reorganization of his holding company, Agache, aiming to distribute equal stakes among his children.
Let’s take a look into Arnault’s business journey, inorder to better understand his shrewd business acumen.
In 2007,according to Wikipedia, it was announced by Blue Capital that Bernard Arnault, in partnership with California property firm Colony Capital, jointly owned a 10.69% stake in Carrefour, France’s largest supermarket retailer and the world’s second-largest food distributor.
In 2008, Arnault expanded his business ventures into the yacht industry by acquiring Princess Yachts for 253 million euros. Shortly after, he also gained control of Royal van Lent for a similar amount.
From 2010 to 2013, Arnault served as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Malaysian 1MDB fund.
On March 7, 2011, Arnault made headlines with the acquisition of 50.4% of the family-owned shares of the esteemed Italian jeweler Bulgari, followed by a tender offer for the remaining publicly owned shares. This transaction amounted to a significant $5.2 billion. Additionally, in the same year, Arnault invested $641 million to establish LCapitalAsia.
In March 2013, Arnault’s private equity firm LCapitalAsia, in collaboration with Chinese apparel company Xin Hee Co., Ltd., assisted in the establishment of stores for the mid-priced clothing brand QDA in Beijing, as reported by National Business Daily.
Further expanding his fashion portfolio, in February 2014, Arnault entered into a joint venture with the Italian fashion brand Marco De Vincenzo, acquiring a minority 45% stake in the company.
In 2016, LVMH sold DKNY to G-III Apparel Group, marking another strategic move within the group.
April 2017 witnessed Arnault’s announcement of the acquisition of Christian Dior’s haute couture, leather, men and women’s ready-to-wear, and footwear lines, effectively integrating the entire Christian Dior brand within LVMH.
By January 2018, under Arnault’s leadership, LVMH achieved record-breaking sales of €42.6 billion in 2017, representing a 13% increase from the previous year. The net profit also rose by 29%.
In November 2019, Arnault expressed his intention to acquire Tiffany & Co. for an estimated amount of $16.2 billion. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and allegations of mismanagement, the initial takeover plan faced setbacks and legal disputes. Eventually, in late October 2020, Tiffany and LVMH reached an agreement at a slightly reduced price of nearly $16 billion, finalizing the purchase in January 2021.
Arnault’s strategic leadership has propelled LVMH to become the largest company in the eurozone, boasting a market capitalization record of 313 billion euros ($382 billion) as of May 2021. Through his approach of decentralization, brands under the LVMH umbrella, including Tiffany, maintain their independence and unique identity.
Source of Wealth: LVMH
Residence: Paris, France
Marital Status: Married
Education: Bachelor of Arts/Science, Ecole Polytechnique de Paris