French luxury goods titan and Europe’s richest person, Bernard Arnault, has just joined the rarefied world of the extravagantly wealthy. Arnault, 70, has become the world’s third centibillionaire, joining America’s Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates as the only other individuals on the planet with a net worth of at least $100 billion. Arnault is the chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE; a $208B (market cap) French multinational luxury goods conglomerate. He has achieved his latest feat after LVMH stock climbed nearly 3 percent on Tuesday to an all-time high of $414 a share. LVMH stock has surged nearly 40 percent in the year-to-date, helping the billionaire’s wealth swell by another $32 billion—the largest increase in the 500-member Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
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Source: Seeking Alpha
An astonishing fact-- Arnault’s fortune of $100.4 billion accounts for more than three percent of France’s economy, highlighting the sheer wealth disparity in the nation of 67 million souls that have been agitating for more benefits to be paid for by the rich. Another startling one--Arnault is 358,000x richer than his average countryman with France boasting an average household net wealth of just USD 280,653 as per OECD.
Arnault entered the luxury-goods business in the 1980s after acquiring the parent company of world-famous fashion house, Christain Dior. He quickly sold the company’s other businesses and used the proceeds to acquire a controlling stake in LVMH in 1988. He still owns a 97 percent stake in Christian Dior.
Arnault is in good company, with France’s multibillionaires having added the most wealth in the region so far in the year with the country’s fashion and luxury brands doing extraordinarily well. Heir to cosmetic giant L'Oréal Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and Kering SA’s Francois Pinault have managed to grow their personal fortunes more than $40B between them—again thanks to the healthy performance of shares by the companies they lead. Meanwhile, the Chanel brand brothers, Gerard and Alain Wertheimer, have seen their fortunes soar nearly $10 billion in the space of just a week after the Parisian fragrance and fashion house reported blowout 2018 results.
Both Gates and Bezos are well known philanthropists, regularly donating to worthy causes. For instance, Gates has donated more than $35 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation while Bezos, the world’s richest man formerly tagged a cheapskate, finally topped the philanthropy list after making charitable donations of around $2 billion last year. Well, Arnault is not exactly a slouch in the alms-giving department either, having pledged $226 million in April for the reconstruction of the landmark Notre Dame Cathedral after the church was ravaged by fire.
Countries with fastest-growing millionaire populations
In case you are wondering where most of the world’s nouveau riche are being minted, well, you might be surprised to learn that they are outside the usual suspect zones—economic powerhouses such as the United States and Japan where most millionaires call home.
According to wealth research firm Wealth-X, countries on the fast-track to growing their millionaire populations the fastest are in Europe, Asia and Africa. According to the firm’s inaugural “High Net Worth Handbook 2019,” Nigeria and Egypt, both African countries top the list with their high net-worth populations expected to expand at an impressive 16.3 percent and 12.5 CAGR, respectively, over the next five-year span.
The firm defines wealthy individuals as those with a net worth of $1 million to $30 million.
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Understandably, the U.S., with a much higher initial base-line of 8.7 million millionaires, is expected to grow its HNW population at a much slower clip than the leaders. China with its HNW class of 1.9 million though is expected to continue being a hotbed for new wealth--9.8 percent CAGR-- with the Asian nation becoming home to at least 80 percent of the world’s 40 high net worth cities over the next five years.
By Alex Kimani for SafeHaven.com
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