France’s Richest People Get Richer Faster Than Everyone Else
(Bloomberg) -- The first half of 2019 brought continued civil unrest to France, with throngs of protesters taking to the streets to demand higher wages and pensions amid widening wealth inequality. But for the nation’s richest citizens, the first six months have been filled with good fortune.
The 14 people from France on the 500-member Bloomberg Billionaires Index added a combined $78 billion to their collective net worth since Dec. 31, a 35% increase. That’s more than double the pace of China’s richest, at 17%, and the U.S.’s 15%. The best returns outside of France came mostly from Asia as Thailand’s wealthiest were a close second at 33%, followed by Singapore’s 31% and 24% for Japan.
The figures exclude countries with fewer than two billionaires in the ranking. That makes Aliko Dangote, the sole Nigerian on the list, an outlier. His wealth has surged 60% to $16.8 billion this year.
Luxury titans Bernard Arnault and Francois Pinault and cosmetics heir Francoise Bettencourt Meyers led the way for France, adding a combined $53 billion. Demand for luxury goods from China has proven resilient despite uncertainty caused by that country’s trade dispute with the U.S. Shares of Arnault’s LVMH have surged 45% this year, the second-best performance in France’s CAC 40 Index. The gains made him a centibillionaire last month as he joined Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates as the only people to have personal fortunes of at least $100 billion.
Thailand’s success can largely be attributed to Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, founder and chairman of TCC Group, a beverage and real estate conglomerate, and Sarath Ratanavadi, major shareholder and chief executive officer of Gulf Energy Development Pcl.
Sirivadhanabhakdi’s net worth rose by $4 billion to $16.5 billion as shares of his Singapore-listed Thai Beverage Pcl surged 38%. He’s aiming to expand his empire beyond beer and whiskey in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy.
Ratanavadi added $2.3 billion as his bet on Vietnam begins to pay off. Shares of Gulf Energy, listed in Bangkok, advanced 51% this year.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.