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July 19, 2019

High-end lifestyle items’ maker surpasses Bill Gates in riches

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July 19, 2019

NEW YORK: There are three people on the planet with fortunes greater than $100 billion. One is the world’s current richest tycoon, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. Another is Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, who was the world’s second-richest human—until now.

The newest claimant of the No 2 slot, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, is the final man in the $100 billion club: Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, international media reported.

Arnault has supplanted Gates as the new No 2 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which is updated at the end of trading each day. The trading of spots marks the first time that the Microsoft co-founder, who the financial news service says is worth $107 billion, has fallen out of the top two since the list’s advent in 2012. The American philanthropist still sits above the French businessman on Forbes’ famed billionaires’ list as of press time. The financial publication puts the men’s worth at $103.4 billion and $103.1 billion, respectively.

Arnault’s leapfrogging of Gates is largely due in part to his wealth growing by $39 billion in 2019, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, by far the biggest individual gain by any of the 500 people included in the Billionaire Index. This year also marks the first time Arnaut’s net worth has eclipsed $100 billion.

Under his stewardship, LVMH has grown into a global luxury powerhouse over the past thirty years, and counts venerable brands such as Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy among its holdings. The last two months have seen the company launch the fashion house Fenty with Rihanna and ink an unexpected deal with Stella McCartney, who left the company’s chief rival, Kering, last year. According to Bloomberg, Arnault’s jump up the Billionaire Index ranking coincided with shares in LVMH climbing to a record high on Tuesday.

Arnault has installed star designers to make headline-grabbing runways collections, and used the shows as marketing spectacles to sell the real moneymakers: bags, accessories, and perfume that attracted high-end shoppers and offered the mass market an entry into the world of luxury.

Forbes currently ranks Dior as the world’s largest fashion brand based on sales, profits, assets, and market value. LVMH on the whole, meanwhile, keeps attracting customers around the world, with China being the latest highly profitable frontier.

Despite the changes at no. 2 and 3 on the Billionaires Index, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos remains the world’s richest man by a comfortable margin, with a net worth of $125 billion. CNN notes that if it weren’t for his philanthropic giving—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $35 billion to causes worldwide—Gates would be atop both Bloomberg and Forbes’ richest billionaires’ lists.

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