LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault. Picture: REUTERS
LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault. Picture: REUTERS

New York — French luxury-goods tycoon Bernard Arnault is staging a comeback on the world’s wealth rankings.

Arnault’s net worth jumped by $8.3bn this week after his conglomerate LVMH posted unexpectedly strong third-quarter results on the back of eager-to-splurge consumers.

The gain puts Arnault, 71, within striking distance of becoming the world’s fifth centibillionaire, behind Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Arnault’s net worth hasn’t exceeded $100bn since January, when his fortune reached a record high of $109.4bn. The outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent economic fallout wiped out almost 50% of his wealth over the next two months as lockdowns shuttered storefronts and luxury spending nosedived.

Friday’s LVMH results showcased the strength of its brands, which include Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon champagne and Givenchy, to selective consumers despite an uncertain economy. Founder Arnault’s net worth has tracked mostly upwards over the past month despite the uncertainty looming over its $16bn purchase of jeweller Tiffany.

LVMH abruptly announced in September that the French government requested it delay the deal due to trade issues with the US. The two luxury giants are now suing each other, with Tiffany saying LVMH’s rationale for backing out is baseless and misleading and LVMH claiming the decision was driven by the government and Tiffany’s own mismanagement. Both companies reject the allegations.

Even with his recent gains, Arnault’s net worth is down by $8.7bn so far this year, the fifth-biggest loss on the Bloomberg index, which tracks the world’s 500 wealthiest people. Overall it’s been a banner year for gains for the world’s richest people. The combined fortunes of the individuals on the ranking have risen by $986bn, or 16.8%, year-to-date.


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