LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault second richest person in world

Bernard Arnault

Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of luxury brands conglomerate LVMH, has seen his fortune rise by US$2.85 billion to make him the second richest person in the world, according to Forbes‘ Real Time Billionaire Rankings.

Arnault’s wealth increased dramatically after he announced LVMH had bought New York-based jeweller Tiffany & Co, as reported by The CEO Magazine.

“We have an immense respect and admiration for Tiffany and intend to develop this jewel with the same dedication and commitment that we have applied to each and every one of our Maisons,” Arnault said in a statement to announce the purchase.

“We will be proud to have Tiffany sit alongside our iconic brands and look forward to ensuring that Tiffany continues to thrive for centuries to come.”

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Bernard Arnault, 70, is allegedly worth US$107.8 billion, taking him ahead of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose wealth has dropped to US$107.4. Arnault is the richest person in Europe and was elected chairman of LVMH in January 1989.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is still the richest person in the globe with US$113 billion.

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Bernard Arnault, a noted art collector, began at his father’s Roubaix construction firm in France in the 1970s. He launched his luxury empire in 1984 with the acquisition of Boussac, a bankrupt French disposable diaper and textile business that included moribund fashion house Christian Dior. Six years later he took control of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy.

The US$16.2 billion acquisition of Tiffany is LVMH’s biggest. LVMH agreed to pay $135 per share in cash for Tiffany & Co. — almost US$2 billion higher than the initial bid LVMH made last month.

Tiffany will join LVMH’s portfolio of more than 70 luxury brands, which includes Fendi, Celine, Bulgari, Dom Pérignon, Marc Jacobs, Sephora and Givenchy.

Arnault’s children Delphine, Antoine, Alexandre and Frédéric all have official roles in brands controlled by Arnault, together with his niece, Stephanie Watine Arnault.

Arnault makes his own business decisions based on the combination of “instinct and concrete facts,” he told The Telegraph in July 2015.

“It’s imperative that both play a part: instinct is a dangerous thing and basing things solely on facts rarely works. You have to be just as mistrustful of straightforward rationality in business as you do of a uniquely gut approach.”

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