Photographer: Fabrice Dimier/Bloomberg

Wealth

France’s Richest Are Making Money Faster Than Everyone Else This Year

  • Nation’s wealthiest added $27.6 billion to fortunes this year
  • Luxury titans Arnault, Pinault have seen the biggest increases

Talk about making a fashion statement.

France’s two richest people -- luxury titans Bernard Arnault and Francois Pinault -- added $22.3 billion to their fortunes this year, helping to make their country the most hospitable for wealth creation among billionaires.

Read also: Luxury stocks are reshaping France’s CAC 40

The nation’s 13 richest people have collectively become $27.6 billion wealthier -- a relative increase of 12 percent -- since January. That’s almost double the gains seen by the richest in Japan, the second-best performing country on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The 500 wealthiest people in total have gained less than 1 percent.

France on Fire

Fortunes of France's richest have grown the fastest so far in 2018

Source: Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Excludes countries with fewer than two billionaires on the ranking

France’s buoyant year can largely be attributed to Arnault, 69, chairman of LMVH, and Pinault, 81, founder of Gucci-owner Kering. Renewed demand for luxury goods from China and a growing presence in e-commerce have lifted sales and propelled both holding groups into the ranks of France’s most valuable companies. A surge in art sales at Pinault’s auction house Christie’s has also contributed. Arnault is Europe’s richest person, worth $76.4 billion, while Pinault’s fortune is valued at $35.5 billion.

The rising tides have also added $2.4 billion to the combined fortunes of brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer -- owners of Chanel --and $3.7 billion to the net worth of France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.

Not all the French billionaires on the index have enjoyed a banner year. Telecom magnate Xavier Niel’s net worth has fallen by $2.6 billion to a five-year low as shares of his phone and cable operator, Iliad SA, have tumbled amid shrinking market share.

— With assistance by Peter Eichenbaum

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