L’Oréal heiress becomes world’s first woman to amass $100bn fortune
L’Oréal has seen its sales rebound after a slump during the pandemic, when people under lockdown used fewer cosmetics products.
The company’s shares rose to a record high in Paris on Thursday and net worth of Bettencourt Meyers, 70, surpassed $100bn on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
This makes her the 12th richest person in the world in a list dominated by men, mostly from the US. That list is topped by Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX founder.
The wealth of Bettencourt Meyers still lags some distance away from that of fellow French national Bernard Arnault, founder of LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury group.
With a net worth of $179 billion, he’s second on the rich list.
France’s growing domination of luxury retail has spawned several other ultra-rich families, including the clan behind Hermès, who have amassed Europe’s largest family fortune, and the Wertheimer brothers who own Chanel.
L’Oréal was founded in 1909 by Bettencourt Meyers’ grandfather, Eugène Schueller, to manufacture and market his invention to dye hair.
Bettencourt Meyers became the reigning heiress of L’Oréal after her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, died in 2017.
Liliane, who was regularly named France’s richest person, had maintained close ties with French leaders such as Nicolas Sarkozy and embraced the media limelight.
Bettencourt Meyers, an only child, is now the vice-chairperson of the company’s board. She and her family are the single biggest shareholders of L’Oréal, with a stake of around 35 percent.
Her sons, Jean-Victor Meyers and Nicolas Meyers, are directors of the company.
Along with her husband, Jean-Pierre Meyers, Bettencourt Meyers has also has ventured into diverse investments through subsidiary Téthys.
In 2011, Meyers was accused of the largest tax fraud in France in 30 years. Liliane Bettencourt admitted tax evasion in 2013.
Based in Clichy-sur-Seine, a north-western suburb Paris, L’Oréal has grown into a global giant valued at €241 billion on the Paris stock exchange.
Its slogan “Because I’m Worth It” has toured the world, represented by celebrities and supermodels such as Cindy Crawford, Beyoncé and Penelope Cruz.