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French super-rich are leaving rich in the dust

Staff writer |
The French business weekly Challenges has revealed that the country's top earners have quadrupled their wealth over the past ten years.

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The collective wealth of the 500 richest French people, some 330 billion euros, grew by 25% over the past year and is four times larger than it was 10 years ago. In its annual roundup of France's wealthiest, the French business weekly Challenges found the country's top earners were getting even richer, easily outpacing the country's own economic growth.

While the wealth of the top 500 has grown four-fold during the past decade, France's GDP has only doubled in the same time period. Ten percent of France's collective wealth is held by around 650 individuals, according to the magazine.

The head of the LVMH Bernard Arnault held France's biggest fortune, estimated at 24.3 billion euros. Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress to the L'Oreal cosmetics empire, was a close second with 23.2 billion euros. Gerard Mulliez of the Auchan Group, was the third biggest with 19 billion euros.

Challenges said that there were also striking disparities within France's wealthiest, and that the top 500 included a "super-rich class". The ten biggest fortunes added up to 135 billion euros, or 40% of the entire wealth of France's group of 500. The same elite group saw their fortunes expand by 30 billion euros over the past twelve months.

The number of French billionaires in 2013 has also grown. There were 55 billionaires in this year's list, compared to 45 in last year's edition.

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