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Bernard Arnault  is a French businessman. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of LVMH, a large luxury goods conglomerate consisting of over fifty luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Fendi. According to Forbes Magazine, Arnault is the world's 4th and Europe's richest person, with a 2011 net worth of US$41 billion.

Arnault was born in Roubaix. After graduating from the Maxence Van Der Meersch High School, Arnault was admitted to the École Polytechnique  from which he graduated with an engineering degree in 1971. After graduation, Arnault joined his father's company. In 1976, he convinced his father to liquidate the construction division of the company for 40 million French francs, and to change the focus of company to real estate. Using the name Férinel, the new company developed a specialty holiday accommodation. In 1979, he succeeded his father as president of the company.

When François Mitterrand was elected President of France in 1981, Arnault emigrated to the United States and created Ferinel Inc. Through this vehicle, Arnault undertook construction activity in the United States, developing an apartment complex in limited partnership form in West Palm Beach, Florida, which defaulted on its mortgage shortly after its completion. The equity investors lost their entire investment and bondholders who had financed the project lost most of their money as well. He was not particularly successful in the United States. Three years later, when the French Socialists switched to a more conservative economic course, Arnault returned to France and became the CEO of Financière Agache, a luxury goods company. The Arnault family put up just $15 million of their own money, with Lazard supplying the rest of the reported $80 million purchase price.Arnault sold nearly all the company's assets, keeping only the prestigious Christian Dior brand, and Le Bon Marché department store.

In 1987, shortly after the creation of LVMH, Mr Arnault exploited a growing conflict between Alain Chevalier, Moët Hennessy's CEO, and Henry Recamier, president of Louis Vuitton. The new group held property rights to Dior perfumes, which Arnault craved to incorporate into Dior Couture.

In 2007 he acquired 10.69% of France's largest supermarket retailer and the world's second largest food distributor, Carrefour through his Blue Capital, which is jointly owned by California property firm Colony Capital.

Among other companies, Arnault also owned the art auction house, Phillips de Pury & Company from 1999 to 2003.

Arnault has been married twice, and is the father of five children. His daughter Delphine Arnault is actively involved in the management of LVMH. His second wife, Hélène Mercier, is a pianist from Quebec. Mr Arnault is a noted art collector. Following the example of business man François Pinault, he created a Louis Vuitton foundation for contemporary art. .

He was  awarded the French Legion of Honor.

( Courtesy: Wikkipedia)

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