Of the 43 billionaires in the country, the richest men in France are those with the most renown for their wealth and influence. While it is not uncommon to find French businesses belonging to aristocratic families, and existing for several decades; another set of billionaires has emerged in France.
The “Nouveau Riche” as they are called in France, is steadily climbing up the economic ladder; they are increasing their influence within the French Economy by creating employment opportunities, and by providing products and services for the European market; thus increasing the inflow of capital into the French financial system.
Every country recognizes the work of its captains of industry; there is no reason to expect the French to be any different.
Top 10 Richest Men In France
1. Bernard Arnault
Net worth: $136.7 billion
Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault was born on the 5th of March 1949. He is a French business magnate who is also an investor and art collector. He is best known as the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy; the world’s largest maker of luxury goods.
Bernard Arnault has been listed as the richest man in the world several times, but at the time of this report, he is listed as the third richest person in the world, and the richest person from Europe.
Bernard Arnault has a sizable art collection; his collection includes works by classical artists such as Picasso, Yves Klein, Henry Moore, and Andy Warhol.
Bernard Arnault also owns the LVMH Foundation which supports contemporary artists and offers grants to art students. He owned a Phillips de Pury & Company, an art collection, an auction house; which gave him access to highly sought-after works of art.
2. Françoise Bettencourt Meyers
Net worth: $73.6 billion
Françoise Bettencourt Meyers was born 1953. She is a French businesswoman and billionaire heiress. She is also a philanthropist, writer, pianist, and French socialite. She is currently the richest woman in the world presently, her company has €43.81 billion in total assets, and has over 88,000 workers.
Françoise Bettencourt Meyers inherited her huge wealth from her grandfather; L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller. The wealth was held in trust and divided between herself and her mother; but her mother died in September 2017, and then all the money came back to her, thus tripling her wealth.
3. François Pinault
Net worth: $42.3 billion
François Pinault was born in 21 August 1936. He is a French billionaire businessman; he is an accomplished business magnate, a person who other businessmen look up to.
He founded the luxury group Kering, which has a revenue of more than €13.1 billion and employs about 38,000 people. Some of the popular brands under the control of his company include Balenciaga, Veneta, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Artémis is the other company owned by François Pinault. This is an investment company that deals in long and short-term investments, including stock investments, and strategic company purchases. The company operates from its base in France but invests in various markets around the world.
Pinault has now shifted his attention to contemporary art; he has passed the management of the company to his son François-Henri.
4. Alain Wertheimer
Net worth: $34.5 billion
Alain Wertheimer is a French billionaire businessman and heir. He was born on the 28th of September 1948. As a businessman he is the chairman and a controlling shareholder of Chanel; a top fashion and luxury goods brand. Alain Wertheimer is a Frenchman, but he has taken in New York City.
4. Gérard Wertheimer
Net worth: $34.5 billion
Gerald Wertheimer is born on 17 April 1951. He is the younger brother of Alain Wertheimer who is the controlling shareholder of the fashion brand Chanel. He is based in New York City, Geneva, from where he oversees the functions of the watch arm of the fashion and luxury brand Chanel.
His grandfather, Pierre, co-founded Chanel with Coco Chanel. The company has been by his elder brother Alain Wertheimer who has presided over the acquisition of several non-Chanel brands, thereby increasing the value of the company.
6. Emmanuel Besnier
Net worth: $19.1 billion
Emmanuel Besnier was born on 18 of September 1970. He is a French heir and businessman, who is known as the invisible billionaire. He inherited control of Lactalis; a French multinational dairy products corporation was 19 October 1933. The company is owned by the Besnier family and has been in the family for 88 years.
Lactalis has recorded revenue of around €19.96 billion and has 75,000 employees. The company is one of the biggest producers of dairy products, cheese butter, and milk.
7. Patrick Drahi
Net worth: $11.8 billion
Patrick Drahi is a French –Israeli billionaire businessman. Some of his businesses include telecoms, media, and other investments. Patrick Drahi was born on 20 August 1963, in Casablanca, Morocco. He grew up in France but has been living in Switzerland since 1999, from where he controls the European-based telecom group, Altice.
In 2014, Drahi and his wife Lina created the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation (PLFA), which supports innovative programs among the Jewish people in the areas of science and education, entrepreneurship, the arts, and so on.
8. Rodolphe Saadé
Net worth: $10.9 billion
Company: CMA CGM
Rodolphe Saadé was born on the 3rd of March 1970. He is a French and Lebanese businessman. He is the chairman of the CMA CGM Group, one of the leading logistics transport companies in Europe and the world.
Rodolphe Saade was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but has lived in France since 1994. Despite inheriting huge wealth he has proved himself as a capable businessman; he established his first business in Lebanon, immediately after graduation from college in Canada. After successfully managing his business, and gaining experience, he came over to join his father in the family company headquarters in Paris.
9. Xavier Niel
Net worth: $8.8 billion
Company: Iliad SA
Xavier Niel was born on 25 August 1967. He is a French billionaire businessman with interests in the telecommunications and technology industry, and also the publishing industry. Xavier Niel is best known as the founder and majority shareholder of the French Internet service provider and mobile operator Iliad.
Iliad is France’s second-largest ISP, and third mobile operator. The company has a 12% share of the French market and is present in over 35 countries.
Xavier Niel is also co-owner of the newspaper Le Monde, which is a very important media outlet in France. He is also the co-owner of Monaco Telecom, Salt Mobile SA, and Eir, as well as Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield.
He also has investments in music.
10. Alain Mérieux
Net worth: $8.2 billion
Company: Institut Merieux
Alain Mérieux was born on 10 July 1938. He is a French billionaire; the Chairman of Institut Mérieux, which his Grandfather Marcel Mérieux founded in 1897. Alain Merieux has also been involved in political activities in France.
The economy of France is well diversified, but the influence of the fashion industry is very significant as one can see by looking at the richest men in France. The French have a taste for luxury goods and for fine art; perhaps only rivaled by the Italians. This is why Paris is largely considered to be the headquarters of the fashion industry.
This list shows how balanced and diversified the French economy is; the money is spread around several sectors: Aviation, Dairy Products, Media, Telecoms, Shipping, and of course one thing that the French do best; fashion.
This wealth, though controlled and harnessed by a few families has been preserved for generations, showing that the French can teach us a thing or two about managing money, multiplying it, and using it to generate more wealth.