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#187 Emmanuel Besnier $7.77B

Random fact: Company's Lactopole is the world's largest dairy museum.


Besnier and his two siblings own all of Lactalis, the world's largest maker of cheese. The Laval, France-based company has 229 production sites in 43 countries, according to its website, and annual revenue of 17 billion euros ($18.2 billion). The billionaire is chief executive officer of the closely held business.

As of July 22, 2017:
Last change +$28.0M (+0.4%)
YTD change +$503M (+6.9%)
Industry Food & Beverage
Biggest asset Lactalis
Citizenship France
Age 43
Wealth Inherited
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Relative Value

Emmanuel Besnier's net worth of $7.77B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Besnier's fortune is derived from his stake in Lactalis, the closely held dairy maker founded by his grandfather in 1933. The exact ownership of the company hasn't been confirmed. Besnier owns 50.3 percent of the business through his family's holdings and his control of Laval, France-based holding company Jema 1, based on an analysis of a May 2011 document from publicly traded Italian foodmaker, Parmalat, 80 percent of which was acquired by Lactalis between 2010 and 2011. The company is the world's largest maker of cheese, according to its website.

The billionaire controls the balance of Lactalis shares with his siblings Jean-Michel and Marie through Brussels-based B.S.A. International. B.S.A doesn't disclose its ownership. Besnier is credited one-third of those shares, giving him about half of the company.

Lactalis has annual revenue of 17 billion euros ($19 billion), according to its website in June 2017. It's valued using the enterprise value-to-sales multiple of publicly traded Parmalat.

Besnier did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment sent to Lactalis.


Birthdate: 9/18/1970
Family: Married, 3 children

Emmanuel Besnier was born in Laval, France, the son of Michel Besnier, the head of closely held dairy producer Besnier on September 18, 1970. After completing his education at home, he left Laval to attend the Institut Superieur de Gestion, a Paris business school.

Besnier became head of development at the family company in 1995, and oversaw a number of acquisitions in the late 1990s. When his father died in June 2000, Besnier became chief executive officer of the milk maker, which had been renamed Lactalis. Since then he has overseen a series of acquisitions, including a 2006 takeover of Italy's leading cheesemaker, Galbani, and the purchase of Rachel's, a U.K. manufacturer of organic yogurts.

Lactalis was forced to reveal its 2010 financial statements and ownership structure as part of the offering document when the company bought Parmalat, an Italian dairy and fruit juice producer, in July 2011. The same year, Besnier blocked the sale of Lactalis products to Leclerc, a French supermarket chain with more than 500 stores in the country, over its pricing policy. The dispute was resovled in January 2012.

Besnier is protective of his privacy, according to French business weekly LePoint. On the morning of his wedding to his wife, Sandrine, he awoke to find French billboard billionaire Jean-Claude Decaux had plastered messages of congratulations on the signage rented by Laval. Besnier ordered his staff to take them all down. He lives in Paris with his wife and their three children.

  • 1933 Lactalis is founded by Besnier's grandfather Andre in Laval, France.
  • 1955 Besnier's father Michel takes over operations at the family company.
  • 1970 Emmanuel Besnier is born in Le Mans, France.
  • 1985 Purchase of Nestle subsidiary Claudel Roustang.
  • 1999 The family company changes its name from Besnier to Lactalis.
  • 2000 Father Michel dies suddenly. Besnier takes over as Lactalis CEO.
  • 2011 Cuts off supplies to French supermarket Leclerc after a pricing dispute.
  • 2011 Takes control of 83.3 percent of Italian dairy product maker Parmalat.