Francoise Bettencourt Meyers becomes first woman to join $100 billion club in the world

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Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the vice chair of French cosmetics giant L’Oréal, has achieved a net worth of $100.1 billion, according to Forbes’ Real Time Billionaires ranking.

For the first time in history, the exclusive $100 billion club, a group traditionally dominated by men, has welcomed its first female member.

This achievement cements her position as the wealthiest woman in the world and marks a shift in the gender dynamics of the ultra-wealthy.

Meet the first $100 billion woman

Bettencourt Meyers, aged 70, briefly surpassed the $100 billion mark on May 15 but saw her net worth dip slightly afterward.

However, on Wednesday, a 0.8% rise in L’Oréal Group shares to 455.6 Euros pushed her net worth back up to $100.1 billion.

  • The bulk of her fortune is tied up in a nearly 35% stake in L’Oréal, which she co-owns with her husband and two sons.
  • Bettencourt Meyers has been on the company’s board since 1997, maintaining a low profile despite her immense wealth.
  • L’Oréal’s performance has been a key factor in her financial ascent.
  • The company’s stock surged in April after surpassing first-quarter sales expectations, propelling Bettencourt Meyers close to the centibillionaire threshold.

In 2023, L’Oréal reported revenues of $44 billion (41 billion Euros) from its extensive portfolio of brands, including Maybelline, Kiehl’s, and Lancôme.

Strategic acquisitions have also played a significant role in L’Oréal’s growth, such as the purchase of Australian beauty brand Aesop for $2.5 billion, enhancing its luxury beauty category.

What you should know

The heiress, who is the granddaughter of L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller, first appeared on Forbes’ list of the world’s wealthiest individuals in 2018, following the death of her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, in 2017.

  • Liliane was a leading shareholder and socialite, whose passing paved the way for Francoise Bettencourt Meyers to ascend in wealth rankings.
  • Since her debut on the Forbes list, her fortune has grown by nearly $58 billion.
  • Her sons, Jean-Victor and Nicolas Meyers, are also involved in the family business, serving on L’Oréal’s board.

Bettencourt Meyers joins a rarefied circle of 16 centibillionaires whose combined wealth totals $2.2 trillion, accounting for 15% of the aggregate wealth of the world’s 2,781 billionaires.

The surge in global wealth has led to an increase in the number of centibillionaires, with nine new members joining this year alone.

  • Among the centibillionaires, Bettencourt Meyers stands out as an exception in a cohort predominantly made up of tech magnates like Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin.
  • Other notable members from the consumer products sector include Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, and Amancio Ortega, founder of the Zara brand.
  • The $100 billion milestone, once considered unreachable, was first surpassed by Bill Gates in 1999, only to see his net worth plummet shortly after.
  • It wasn’t until 2017 that Jeff Bezos reentered the centibillionaire club, followed by Bernard Arnault, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk in subsequent years.

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