The world’s richest woman L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt died on Wednesday aged 94. By Friday her estate had gained $1 Billion.
Her estate’s net worth valued at $44.7 billion by Forbes increased by $1 Billion, as news of her death Thursday sent L’Oreal shares on their way for their biggest gain in seven years.
Friday’s stock gain, which added $963 million to the value of Bettencourt’s shares, appears to have been triggered by speculation over L’Oréal’s future. Some analysts have suggested that Nestle, which already owns 23% of the company’s stock, may increase its stake. Nestle has been barred from raising its ownership interest until six months after Bettencourt’s death.
Investors have been bullish on L’Oréal for some time. The company’s share price has risen 88% in the last five years and hit a record high this past June. Prior to her death, Bettencourt and her heirs owned 33% of the business.
L’Oréal was founded in 1907 by Bettencourt’s father, Eugene Schueller. She was his sole heir. The business grew enormously over her lifetime; it now generates annual revenue of approximately $28.5 billion. L’Oréal’s portfolio of cosmetic and beauty brands includes Lancome, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, Maybelline, Redken and Essie.
Famously publicity shy, Bettencourt was thrust into the spotlight in her later years by a series of legal battles. In 2011 a court found that her ailing mental state, caused by dementia, made her her unfit to preside over her own affairs. She was placed under the guardianship of her daughter and grandchildren and was supplanted on L’Oréal’s board by grandson Jean-Victor Meyers the following year. Then, in 2015, a court found eight people guilty of swindling Bettencourt out of millions of dollars.
Bettencourt is survived by her daughter, Francoise, her daughter’s husband, Jean-Pierre Meyers, and two grandsons.
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