“Colossal” is the word Challenges magazine says “best sums up the results” of their 27th ranking of the 500 largest professional fortunes in France, scheduled for online release at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6.
According to the French business magazine, accumulated professional assets in France increased by 5% in one year to “pass the symbolic bar” of 1,002 billion euros.
The record amount for French companies represents more than 40% of the country’s GDP and 2.5 times the state budget for the current year.
Two other records in the 2022 ranking: there are now 122 billionaires (there were 20 less than 30 years ago) and you must now have at least €200 million to be among the 500 biggest professional fortunes in France. The Top Ten are worth €518 billion, more than half of the combined amount of the total list.
However, the weekly publication reported that the record-breaking figures do not stem from the luxury or tech sectors, although Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, is still ranked Number One with an estimated wealth of €149 billion. The luxury titan lost €8.5 billion since last year, partially impacted by Covid restrictions in China, their largest customer base. For the same reason, Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers (L'Oréal) saw her assets drop 12% but she ranks third with a net worth of €62.4 billion.
The big winners in the 2022 Challenges 500 list were the Rodophle Saadé family, who own 73% of the Marseille shipowner CMA CGM. In one year, the Saadé family assets jumped €30 billion, or 500%, a first since the magazine put out its annual ranking back in July 1996. This took the Saadés to 5th place (€36 billion) from 19th (€6 billion). In 2020, they received a state loan of €1.05 billion to avoid bankruptcy, which has since been repaid.
The Duval and Aubert families, owners of the French mining group Eramet, saw their wealth jump from €575 million to €1.5 billion, an increase of 160%. After being in the red for 2020, the company is taking full advantage of the surge in metals, especially manganese and aluminum, and recently announced major investments in New Caledonia.
In 2019, accumulated assets of the 500 largest professional fortunes in France hit €953 billion but only a decade ago, in 2012, the figure was four times less than today at €267 billion.
For its ranking, Challenges identifies all professional assets, whether listed and/or unlisted, but does not take into account personal assets (real estate, cars, works of art, etc.).