Bernard Arnault, the CEO of the LVMH luxury goods group, has been ranked the richest man in France by the magazine Challenges. His fortune is estimated at €22.76 billion.
The canny French businessman, who created the world's largest luxury products company, retains his position as the wealthiest man in France.
The LVMH group, or LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton S.A., is based in Paris and houses names such as Dom Pérignon, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Bulgari and many others in its exclusive stable of brands.
According to a 2011 ranking by Forbes magazine, Arnault ranks as the globe's fourth richest person.
Following Arnault on the French rich list are Gérard Mulliez, founder of the Auchan group (€19 billion), Liliane Bettencourt of L'Oréal (€14.45 billion), and Bertrand Puech of Hermès International (€8.59 billion).
This past year has been a good one for France's extremely well-off. According to Challenges, the total fortunes of the 500 richest French executives rose by 25 percent in one year, from €194 to €241 billion.
A recent study by Société Générale Private Banking and Forbes showed that the wealth of 67 percent of the rich in France was inherited, whereas 68 percent of the billionaires in the United States and 80 percent in the UK are responsible for their own fortunes.