LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is no longer the world’s richest person after his net worth slid by US$760 million to US$115.6 billion as Amazon shares dipped 0.7 percent.

The drop may only be a tiny percentage of his net worth, but it was enough to see LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault to overtake Bezos at the top of the world’s rich list.

Arnault gained US$1.9 billion in net worth on Friday as LVMH stock also edged up by 0.7 percent. The Frenchman is currently worth US$117 billion, up from $102 billion when he graced the cover of Forbes less than four months ago.

Luxury goods purveyor LVMH has had a stellar start to 2020. It acquired the cult beauty brand Kat Von D, while simultaneously splurging on a 1758-carat diamond from Lucara Diamond Corp. The latter deal for the second largest rough diamond in history comes as shareholders in Tiffany & Co are due to vote on LVMH’s US$16.2 billion bid to acquire the iconic jeweler.

Currently, LVMH’s shares are worth more than Europe’s biggest carmaker, Volkswagen AG and Europe’s biggest bank, HSBC Holdings plc. In November, LVMH’s market capitalisation topped €200 billion for the first time, making it almost as valuable as Europe’s biggest oil producer, Royal Dutch Shell plc.

The Wall Street Journal reported that as “banks are struggling to adapt to new post-financial-crisis regulations, auto makers [are] facing declining car sales, [and] big oil companies are subject to the whims of turbulent oil and natural-gas markets,” luxury fashion and accessories brands have been consistently revealing boosted bottom lines across the globe. LVMH and its peers Kering and Hermès occupy three of the top seven spots by market capitalisation on the CAC-40, France’s main stock index.

The difference in Bezos and Arnault’s fortunes is less than US$2 billion, so any stock market movements will likely see them trading places again. Both men are around US$7 billion richer than Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who remains the third-richest person in the world.


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