France’s top 500 fortunes getting even bigger
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In its annual survey of France’s 500 richest people, a French business magazine has revealed that the country’s top earners have quadrupled their wealth over the past decade.
The collective wealth of the 500 richest French people – some 330 billion euros – grew by 25% over the past year and is four times larger than it was 10 years ago, a French magazine has revealed.
In its annual roundup of France’s wealthiest, released on Thursday, the French business weekly Challenges said the country’s top earners were getting even richer, easily outpacing the country’s own economic growth.
While the wealth of the top 500 has grown four-fold during the past decade, France’s GDP has only doubled in the same time period.
Furthermore, 10% of France’s collective wealth is held by around 650 individuals, according to the magazine.
The head of the LVMH luxury good conglomerate, Bernard Arnault (pictured, main) held France’s biggest fortune, estimated at 24.3 billion euros.
Liliane Bettencourt, the embattled heiress to the L’Oreal cosmetics empire, was a close second with 23.2 billion euros.
Gerard Mulliez, of the Auchan Group, which includes supermarkets and sporting goods stores, was the third biggest with 19 billion euros.
The richest of the rich
Challenges said that there were also striking disparities within France’s wealthiest, and that the top 500 included a “super-rich class”.
The 10 biggest fortunes added up to 135 billion euros, or 40% of the entire wealth of France’s group of 500. The same elite group saw their fortunes expand by 30 billion euros over the past twelve months.
The number of French billionaires in 2013 has also grown. There were 55 billionaires in this year’s list, compared to 45 in last year’s edition.
Xavier Niel, a French entrepreneur and founder of the multimedia services group Free, broke into the top 500 list this year at number 500, with a fortune of 80 million euros.
At the same time, previous members of the group dropped out. Jacques Servier, the head of the pharmaceutical group of the same name, was dumped from the list after the scandal surrounding its medication Mediator hurt the company’s finances.
A struggling auto market has also helped shape this year’s list. The Peugeot family, a former “Top 10” member, has seen its fortune cut by 75% in the past three years.
Nevertheless, they managed to earn 1.3 billion euros this year.