The man set to become world’s richest

Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have been seesawing lately for the title of world's richest person.

However, it now appears that billionaire Bernard Arnault may have fresh claims to the crown.

On Sunday, Mr Arnault's French luxury firm, LVMH, agreed to purchase New York jeweller Tiffany & Co for $US16.2 billion ($A24 billion).

 

According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index Mr Arnault, 70, has a net worth of $US103 billion ($A152 billion), just behind Mr Bezos with $US111 billion ($A164 billion) and Mr Gates with $US110 billion ($A162 billion).

The trio have a sizeable buffer ahead of Warren Buffett with $US86.3 billion ($A127 billion) and Mark Zuckerberg with $US76.3 billion ($A112 billion).

Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett. Picture: AP
Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett. Picture: AP

 

 

LVMH already owns 75 brands including itsflagship brand Louis Vuitton, as well as Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Sephora as well as watchmaker Tag Heuer, and Dom Perignon champagne.

Mr Arnault's net worth rose by 1 per cent after the Tiffany takeover was announced, or a cool $US2.1 billion ($A3 billion).

Louis Vuitton couture Monogram Vernis handbag. Picture: Supplied
Louis Vuitton couture Monogram Vernis handbag. Picture: Supplied

 

Dom Perignon. Picture: Luke Marsden.
Dom Perignon. Picture: Luke Marsden.

Mr Arnault's wealth is based largely on his family's 47 per cent shareholding in LVMH.

LVMH's strong performance has seen its shares rise 55 per cent so far this year.

His claims to become the world's richest person however rest on how well LVMH can reverse Tiffany & Co's declining sales and its relevance to a younger generation.

 

Tiffany’s iconic little blue box. Picture: Supplied
Tiffany’s iconic little blue box. Picture: Supplied

Tiffany was founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany but helped achieve its iconic status in no small way thanks to the 1961 Audrey Hepburn film, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and its little blue boxes.

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Picture: Supplied
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Picture: Supplied

Mr Arnault began building his luxury brand empire in 1984, when he purchased Paris-based fashion house Christian Dior for $US60 million ($A88 million).

The company started becoming a force in 1987, when Mr Arnault partnered with Alain Chevalier to purchase Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey after the fashion firm and spirits purveyor merged.


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