For a brief period in 2021, Bernard Arnault was the richest person in the world. As of September 19, 2021, his net worth was an eye-watering AUD$274 billion. Constantly swapping places with the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, Arnault too rises and falls with the share price of his luxury conglomerate in LVMH.
Since the late ’80s, Arnault has served as the chairman of Louis Vuitton after he acquired a 44% stake in the luxury brand. After adding in the ownership of his family holdings company, his stake swelled to 47%. Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) is the luxury conglomerate that owns and is responsible for brands such Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Bulgari, Tag Heuer, Sephora and Hennessy. However, the list doesn’t end there. (See full list at the end)
The Arnault Family Group is the only major shareholder left in LVMH after buying out the remaining share held by Christian Dior SE in a $18.4 billion dollar buy-out.
Arnault began his early life studying engineering and working for his father’s company. After taking an interest in the textile and retail sector, Arnault, with some assistance, acquired Financière Agache, then a luxury goods company. Arnault and Agache won the bidding war to acquire Boussac Saint-Frères, the company that had ownership of Christian Dior.
Following Arnault’s acquisition of Boussac, he laid off 9,000 workers in the space of two years, gaining the nickname ‘The Terminator’. Following this, he sold nearly all of Boussac’s assets, retaining only the Christian Dior brand and Le Bon Marché retail department store. At the time, while being labelled a villain, Arnault brought Boussac back to life and made the company profitable once again with a $1.9 billion revenue.
In 1989, Arnault was unanimously elected chairman of the executive management board of LVMH after spending $2.6 billion to gain 44% of shares and ownership and 35% voting rights of LVMH. Since then, we have seen exponential growth of LVMH and countless acquisitions. The company now has a worth of around $412 billion Aussie dollars and a share price of $699 (Dec 20th, 2021)
LVMH controls around 60 subsidiary companies. The most notable of these include:
Louis Vuitton, Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Dom Pérignon, Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Off-White, Bulgari, Tiffany & Co, Tag Heuer, Hublot and Sephora.