The fortune of Bernard Arnault, the world’s richest person, has topped $200 billion for the first time as shares in his French LVMH luxury goods empire hit a record high, a media outlet reported.
The 74-year-old has become only the third person in history to amass an estimated fortune above the $200 billion. Tesla’s Elon Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have previously hit the milestone before their fortunes dropped back as technology companies share prices fell, The Guardian reported.
Arnault’s fortune increased by $2.4 billion on Tuesday to hit $201 billion, according to the daily-updated Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His wealth has increased by $39 billion so far this year as shares in LVMH have risen 30 per cent, thanks to soaring demand for luxury goods among the world’s wealthy.
The French billionaire is now $25 billion richer than Musk, whose fortune has been knocked by his $44 billion purchase of Twitter and a 50 per cent fall in the value of the electric car company Tesla over the past year. Musk is Tesla’s co-founder, chief executive and 13 per cent shareholder.
Bezos, who was the first person to hit the $200 billion milestone in August 2020, is currently the world’s third-richest person, with a $128 billion fortune, The Guardian reported.
Arnault is the chairman and chief executive of LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Moet & Chandon champagne. Its shares have shot up by more than 150 per cent in the past three years, hitting a new high of 853 euro on Wednesday morning.
LVMH last year achieved record sales of 79.2 billion euro and has begun a 1.5 billion euro share buyback programme, which has helped further lift the share price.
Arnault, who co-founded the luxury goods group 35 years ago and is its majority shareholder, has recently appointed his children to key roles within the business, the media outlet reported.
In January his eldest child, Delphine, was named the head of Christian Dior, the second-biggest brand in the empire. Her brother Antoine was promoted to run the holding company that controls LVMH and the Arnault family fortune.
Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries, was ranked 9th in the Forbes’ 37th annual World’s Billionaires List 2023, with an estimated net worth of $83.4 billion. He maintained his position as the wealthiest individual in Asia.
Ambani was ranked 10th in the prestigious list last year, with an estimated net worth of $90.7 billion.
In the latest list this year, Ambani is ranked higher than the likes of Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Michael Dell of Dell Technologies.
Gautam Adani remained India’s second most wealthy person, but slipped to the 24th rank globally following the recent rout in share prices of Adani Group companies. His net worth was estimated at $47.2 billion.
Shiv Nadar of HCL Technologies is the third among Indians on the list with a net worth of $25.6 billion and a global rank of 55.
While the Forbes’ global count of billionaires slipped from 2,668 last year to 2,640 in 2023, the tally in India improved from 166 in 2022 to 169 this year.
Forbes noted that falling stocks, wounded unicorns and rising interest rates translated into a down year for the world’s wealthiest people.
Altogether, the planet’s billionaires are now worth $12.2 trillion, a drop of $500 billion from $12.7 trillion in March 2022.
According to Forbes, the US still boasts the most billionaires, with 735 list members worth a collective $4.5 trillion. China (including Hong Kong and Macau) remains second, with 562 billionaires worth $2 trillion, followed by India, with 169 billionaires worth $675 billion.
To calculate net worth, Forbes used stock prices and exchange rates from March 10, 2023.