The owner of French luxury group LVMH, the maker of Louis Vuitton bags and Moët champagne, among other high-end products, could soon topple Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person.
On Tuesday, Bernard Arnault and his family’s net worth climbed 1% to roughly $108 billion, according to Forbes, which tracks billionaires’ wealth in real time. The jump comes a day after LVMH agreed to buy iconic Manhattan jeweler Tiffany’s for $16 billion.
The deal boosted LVMH shares roughly 2%, lifting the value of Arnault’s fortune. It also vaulted him into the No. 2 slot ahead of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose net worth Forbes pegs at $107.5 billion. And it puts the French mogul within striking distance of Bezos, worth roughly $112 billion.
The trio have a clear lead over other billionaires. The next three ultra-wealthy figures on Forbes’s list — investor Warren Buffett, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Oracle’s Larry Ellison — are worth roughly $86 billion, $74 billion and $69 billion, respectively.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is now piling some of his money into running for president, lands at No. 15, with a net worth of $55 billion, while Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family — heirs to the L’Oreal cosmetics fortune — rank No. 12 at roughly $56 billion.
For LVMH, buying Tiffany adds a widely known name to its portfolio of consumer brands, which include Bulgari, Christian Dior and Rihanna’s Fenty line. Arnault said the deal would strengthen the luxury house’s position in high-end jewelry in the U.S. market.
Tiffany hopes the merger will curb sluggish sales and transform its brand to appeal to younger, digitally-savvy shoppers.