About Bernard Arnault


wealthymatters.comThe luxury goods business has always fascinated me.Only a part of this fascination is attributable to the fact that I am something of an aesthete.The  other major part is pure common sense:The fat margins possible in real luxury goods.Though today these businesses might be dominated by financiers , almost all of these started out as ateliers catering to the rich and were set-up by individuals with an understanding of the tastes and inclinations of the rich,some artistic talent,an understanding of skilled craftsmanship,an ability to get things made and some flair to market their wares to their select customers.These days luxury goods companies try to extend their reach by producing mass market luxury targeted at  the aspiring classes.This makes these companies subject to the vagaries of the business cycles.However by producing Veblen goods in limited editions, a small business could not have to bother about business cycles.These very characteristics of the luxury goods business make them suitable for a boot0strapping  entrepreneur.

Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault is today the world’s 4th and Europe’s richest person, with an estimated net worth of US$41 billion.He was Forbes’ “the fashion person of 2011”.Bernard grew up in Roubaix, northern France. After graduating from the École Polytechnique, Bernard worked as an engineer and ran his family’s construction and property business firm, Ferret-Savinel. Read more of this post

Cold Steel


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‘Cold Steel’ is a mesmerising read.It is a narration of the takeover battle waged by Lakshmi Narayan Mittal against the management of Arcelor to emerge as the Emperor of Steel.

In 2006, the two largest steel-producers in the world-Arcelor and Mittal Steel, are in the middle of  a bitter battle for total market domination

At first Lakshmi Mittal proposes a friendly merger with rival Arcelor, a pan-European company whose interested parties include the governments of Spain, Luxembourg and Belgium.

Arcelor’s mercurial CEO, Frenchman Guy Dollé, firmly refuses,using intemperate language.To quote,“The answer is clearly no…There are two categories of steel. There is premium-quality steel and there is commodity steel. It’s like, there’s perfume, that Arcelor specialises in, and then there’s a sort of eau de cologne which is Mittal’s domain… a lot more technology and grey matter goes into each tonne we sell.” ….. “Part of Mittal’s offer consists, if you’ll excuse the expression, of monnaie de singe.”(literally meaning “monkey money” or “funny money” or tainted money).These same words come back to haunt him later.

The refusal sets the scene for a massive hostile takeover involving billions of dollars of finance and government and shareholder manoeuvring. The corporate battle that ensues takes on epic proportions and becomes  one of the world’s biggest and most hard-fought industry takeovers of recent years. It sends shockwaves through the political corridors of Europe, excites the world’s financial markets, enriches thirty hedge funds and transformes the global steel industry.The participants come from many different continents and include six billionaires, many of the world’s top investment bankers (interestingly with two brothers, pitted against each other, one working for Goldman Sachs and the other for Morgan Stanley),top law firms and public relations outfits , presidents , prime ministers and politicians occupying the highest positions in the current and emerging superpowers. Read more of this post

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