Bernard Arnault’s wealth just reached staggering new heights.
On Tuesday, the French tycoon behind luxury conglomerate LVMH (and ARTnews Top 200 collector) took the top spot on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index with a total net worth of $201 billion. It’s the first time Arnault has achieved the milestone and makes him just one of three people ever to surpass the $200 billion mark. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have also reached, and fallen back from, this threshold, but Arnault is the first non-American to get there.
Last December, the 74-year-old’s net worth surpassed Musk’s for the first time, briefly making him the world’s richest person. Musk, Tesla CEO and Twitter owner, reclaimed the title last month, but just like that, Arnault now holds the title again. As demand for luxury goods remains strong, Arnault’s LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton empire continues to hold up better than tech companies. As a result, Bloomberg reports that the tycoon’s net worth has increased by $39 billion this year alone. Seeing as we’ve only just entered the second quarter of 2023, it will be interesting to see what may cause Arnault’s billions to fluctuate moving forward.
LVMH’s stock price currently stands at a record high of $186.15 as of April 4. Why? In February, the company announced it would be buying back $1.6 billion of its own shares. Additionally, a record $86.4 billion was posted by the company last year as well, which included revenue surpassing $21.8 billion at Louis Vuitton. Altogether, Arnault owns 75 luxury brands including high-end names such as Dior, Loro Piana, Celine, Bulgari, and Tiffany & Co., which LVMH acquired for $15.8 billion, a deal finalized in 2021.
Fund managers, M&A desks, as well as analysts part of a Bloomberg survey are now expecting LVMH to “snap up rivals in a tough competitive environment for smaller companies.” Given the rough nature of the economy today, it’s not the only high-profile conglomerate currently in the market for new acquisitions. One recent example is L’Oreal’s acquisition of Australian skincare brand Aesop for $2.5 billion. Arnault hasn’t shared the names of any smaller brands he’d like to buy, but with just over eight months left in 2023, there’s still plenty of time.