Serge Dassault, Patriarch of French Aircraft Empire, Dies at 93

(Bloomberg) -- Serge Dassault, the billionaire businessman and politician who inherited an aviation empire from his World War I-aircraft designer father, has died. He was 93.

Dassault died in his office in Paris of heart failure, said a spokeswoman for Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault, the family’s holding, where he was honorary chairman.

One of two sons born to aviation legend Marcel Dassault and his wife, Madeline Minckes, Serge forged a name outside his father’s shadow as a fierce guardian of the family’s businesses and an outspoken conservative politician and former senator.

As head of Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault, Dassault had to contend with critical comparisons to his powerful father, who founded the family’s main business, Paris-based aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, the maker of the Rafale military plane and Falcon corporate jet.

The Dassaults fought to keep the aviation company independent, and successfully rebuffed attempts by French President Francois Mitterrand to nationalize it in the 1990s. He also fought off efforts by President Jacques Chirac to reorganize the company.

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