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61 billionaires on France's rich list

Business magazine finds that luxury is still highly profitable for France’s richest people

FRANCE now boasts 61 billionaires, compared to 55 last year, according to the annual rich list published by business magazine Challenges.

The magazine’s latest rundown of the 500 richest people in France also reveals that, even as the country struggles in austerity, the wealthy just keep on raking in money.

Challenges says that the wealth of the France’s most monied people has risen 15% in a year.

It calculated that the combined wealth of the 500 richest in France is about €390bn. “The richest have not suffered in the crisis,” the magazine said.

France still lags behind Germany and the UK for the number of billionaires, however, and the rate of people joining the ranks of the mega-rich has fallen 25% year on year.

Even in these difficult times, high-end products are still profitable, with the owners of luxury goods companies dominating Challenges’ list.

It is headed by LMVH CEO Bernard Arnault, whose personal wealth the magazine estimates at €27bn and, it said, who raked in €2.7bn last year.

L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, the world's richest woman, is second, with an estimated wealth a mere €1bn less than Mr Arnault. (A Forbes rich list for Europe reversed their places earlier this year. It found four French people to be among the richest 20 people in the EU and listed Ms Bettencourt as the second richest person in the continent of Europe, including countries like Russia and Ukraine).

Gérard Mulliez, founder of the Auchan supermarket chain is third, and is said to be worth €20bn.

Hermes’ Axel Dumas comes in with €17bn, while Chanel’s Alain and Gerard Wertheimer are said to be worth €14.5bn.

Aerospace magnate Serge Dassault and luxury brand retailer François Pinault are both valued at €13.5bn. Vintner Pierre Castel’s weath is valued at €7.5bn.

Free boss Xavier Niel is the first representative of new technologies and media on the list. His personal wealth is said to be €8.5bn.

Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol

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