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Business Leader of the Week: Meet Bernard Arnault, world’s richest person & Louis Vuitton CEO

IFM_Louis Vuitton CEO Bernard Arnault
As of March 2023, Bernard Arnault has an estimated net worth of USD 208.1 billion dollars, which made him the wealthiest person in the world

‘LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton’ commonly known as LV or Louis Vuitton is a French multinational holding and conglomerate that manufacture luxury goods. The company was established in 1987 and headquartered in Paris, France. The company operates through various business divisions like Wines & Spirits, Fashion & Leather Goods, Perfumes & Cosmetics, Watches & Jewelry, Selective Retailing, and Other Activities & Eliminations.

The Wines & Spirits division produces and sells high-quality sparkling wines and champagne, moreover, it also sells vodka and white liquor. The division that deals in fashion and leather goods produces clothing, accessories, shoes, and luggage.

The Perfumes & Cosmetics division engages in producing and distributing cosmetic, fragrance, and skin care goods. Luxury watches and accessories for men and women are produced by the Watches & Jewelry division.

The company is specialized in the field of chronographs and ultimate precision. The Selective Retailing division is set up to support a setting that is consistent with the prestige and reputation of luxury brands. It engages in the sale of upscale goods to tourists from other countries. This division also offers beauty stores that combine direct access and customer assistance to customers. The media sector comes under the Other Activities & Eliminations division. It produces periodicals and newspapers, runs financial and business websites, and owns radio stations. This segment also works with real estate and constructs opulent ships.

Louis Vuitton became the most valuable company in Europe with a valuation of USD 329 billion dollars in 2021. The company LVMH controls around 60 subsidiaries that manage 75 prestigious brands. These include Tiffany & Co., Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Loewe, Loro Piana, Kenzo, Celine, Sephora, Princess Yachts, TAG Heuer, and Bulgari.

The brain behind this successful venture is Bernard Arnault who is the founder, chairman, and CEO. He is an investor and also an art collector.

    Who is Bernard Arnault?

  • Bernard Arnault was born on 5th March 1949 in Roubaix, a city in northern France
  • He completed his degree in engineering from Ecole Polytechnique, France leading engineering college in 1971, and started working for his father’s company ‘Ferret-Savinel’

  • In 1979, Bernard Arnault succeeded his father as President, shifted the company’s focus solely to real estate and renamed it ‘Ferinel Inc’
  • He went on to acquire and become CEO of the Financiere Agache, a luxury goods company in France
  • Bernard Arnault acquired Boussac Saint-Freres empire, a textile and retail conglomerate that owned Christian Dior, a luxury fashion house, in a bidding war set by the French government in 1987
  • The same year, he co-founded LVMH with Alain Chevalier, then-CEO of Moet Hennessy, and Henry Racamier, then-president of Louis Vuitton
  • In 1989, Bernard Arnault spent another USD 500 million dollars to gain control of a total of 43.5% of LVMH’s shares and 35% of its voting rights
  • In 2017, he became CEO of LVMH and Chairman of Christian Dior, of which he purchased all remaining shares for USD 13.1 billion dollars
  • In 1999, Bernard Arnault turned his eyes on Gucci, an Italian leather goods company, which was run by Tom Ford and Domenico De Sole and bought a 5% stake before being detected. Gucci responded hostilely and called it a “creeping takeover”
  • He has been awarded ‘The Woodrow Wilson Award for Global Corporate Citizenship’ in 2011, ‘Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order’ of the British Empire in 2012, and ‘The Museum of Modern Art’s David Rockefeller Award’ in 2014
  • As of March 2023, Bernard Arnault has an estimated net worth of USD 208.1 billion dollars, which made him the wealthiest person in the world, replacing Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk

Bernard Arnault Called Warren Buffett His Inspiration

In an interview given to Forbes in 2017, Bernard Arnault called one of his fellow billionaires his biggest business inspiration: Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett.

The renowned investor is “the person, who I admire most in business,” Bernard Arnault said, while adding, “He is a long-term investor and has brilliant ideas and he sticks to them.”

Warren Buffett famously sticks to a “buy-and-hold” investing strategy, preaching long-term patience over watching the markets closely day-to-day, Bernard Arnault remarked further.

Similarly, Bernard Arnault has called ‘patience an essential quality’ in business. He also reportedly expressed admiration for Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Bernard Arnault said, “Jobs succeeded at Apple due to a combination of creativity and a keen sense of how to manage for growth”.

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