Who are France’s 39 billionaires and what do many have in common?

There are 39 billionaires in France and many of them have more in common than designer suits.

Who are France's 39 billionaires and what do many have in common?
Photo: Forbes
France is home to 39 billionaires with a combined wealth of $245 billion, according to the latest Forbes magazine billionaire's ranking.
But unlike the names in the global top ten, which was topped by Bill Gates at $86 billion, around half of the French names on the list gained their riches via family inheritance rather than starting their own company.
And unlike the Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook founders who fill the top spots, none of France's entrants to the list founded tech companies.
Instead, it was heirs and heiresses of long-standing luxury, cosmetics and engineering companies.
The profile of a French billionaire was that of an older man – with an average age of 69. In fact only four women are in the top 39 (Liliane Bettencourt, Marie Besnier, Carrie Perrodo and Anne Beaufour).
The first French name to grace the list is Bernard Arnault (pictured below), the head of the luxury group LVMH, who comes 11th in the world rankings with an estimated worth of $41.5 billion. 
Photo: AFP
Although Arnault didn't inherit LVMH, he did inherit ownership of his father's public works company Farinel before moving into fashion holding. His daughter Delphine is tipped to become his successor to the business. 
It was Arnault who swiped the top French spot from Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress of L'Oréal cosmetics, who was ranked as the second wealthiest French person. She came 14th globally, and finished as the richest woman in the world with a fortune of $39.5 billion. 
Photo: AFP 
After her in the top French list came Serge Dassault of the aeronautical group Dassault, then Francois Pinault, the founder of Kering (which is the parent company to names like Gucci and Alexander McQueen), then Patrick Drahi, the owner of media and mobile network group Altice, which owns Virgin Mobile France, SFR and Numericable among others. 
The Wertheimer brothers, the mysterious and rather secretive family owners of Chanel, finished at equal 6th for the French list with estimated fortunes of $11.8 billion each. 
Emmanuel Besnier owner of Lactalis, Xavier Nielof Iliad (or Free) mobile network, and Carrie Perrodo, the widow of the oil group Perenco, rounded up the top ten French names on the list. 
The Besnier family offered three names to the list, with Marie Besnier Beauvalot, Emmanuel Besnier, Jean-Michel Besnier all appearing.
The Bouygues brothers Martine and Olivier, who inherited the Bouygues industrial empire, also featured with a joint worth of $3.7 billion
Canal Plus owner Vincent Bolleré, who took over the family company Bolloré group, was the 11th richest French person. The company, a logistics holding group, has been largely under family control since it began in 1822.
Another familiar name on the list was Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, influential CEO of FIMALAC financial services.
He hit the headlines recently for allegedly paying Penelope Fillon, wife of presidential candidate François Fillon, around €5,000 a month to write two reviews for a literary publication he owns, Revue de Deux Mondes. 
Magistrates are also investigating the circumstances around how Fillon recommended him for a prestigious Legion d'honneur award.

By Rose Trigg