Advanced degrees in engineering from Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole des Mines.
Served as senior adviser to France's Minister of Industry. Turned around near-bankrupt Italian steelmaker Carlo Tassara after being named CEO in 1984.
Bought a 38.5% stake in Italian conglomerate Falck in 1996, selling shares in 2000 for a $273 million gain. Began building up a 15% stake in conglomerate Montedison in 2000, later selling 5% to French electricity giant EDF.