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FB Roundup: Françoise Bettencourt Myers, Gustavo Cisneros, Shepherd family

FB Roundup: Françoise Bettencourt Myers, Gustavo Cisneros, Shepherd family
In this week’s FB Roundup, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers becomes the first woman to have a net worth in excess of $100 billion; tributes are paid to Venezuelan media magnate Gustavo Cisneros; and Yorkshire’s Shepherd family sell their Portakabin firm for £1.5 billion.
By Glen Ferris
Françoise Bettencourt Meyers

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers becomes first woman to top $100 billion fortune
The world’s richest woman, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, has become the first female in history to amass a personal net worth in excess of $100 billion.

According to the newly updated Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the L'Oréal heiress benefitted from the boost in her personal fortune after the French empire founded by her grandfather saw its best stock market performance in decades, thanks to a renewed post-pandemic rise in cosmetics.

The 69-year-old businesswoman, who is the biggest single shareholder of L’Oreal with a stake of around 35 per cent, is now the 12th richest person in the world overall.

Bettencourt Meyers has also increased her private investments through family office Tethys Invest, which she set up with her husband Jean-Pierre Meyers in 2016. Tethys Invest aims to make direct investments in entrepreneurial projects which do not directly compete with L’Oreal, such as retailer Sezane, private equity company General Atlantic and French private hospital operator Elsan.

Bettencourt Meyers and her two sons, Jean-Victor Meyers and Nicolas Meyers sit on the board of L’Oreal. Shares of the cosmetics firm have more than doubled in the past five years, with the company now valued at around $217 billion.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s richest people, reported that at the end of 2023 Elon Musk kept the title of the world’s richest man with a personal net worth of $229 billion, LVMH owner Bernard Arnault, meanwhile, came in second place with a net worth of $179 billion.

Gustavo Cisneros

Tributes paid to Venezuelan media magnate Gustavo Cisneros
Venezuelan billionaire businessman Gustavo Cisneros, the man credited with growing his Grupo Cisneros family business into one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world, has died at the age of 78.

According to Reuters, Grupo Cisneros confirmed his death, calling him a “leader who transcended business, characterised by his strategic vision and commitment to innovation.”

The Caracas-born fourth son of Cisneros founder Diego Cisneros co-founded Univision, the USA’s first Spanish-language media company in 1982. In 1995, he launched DIRECTV Latin America, the first all-digital direct-to-home satellite television service in Latin America.

“Gustavo Cisneros was an inspiring, visionary leader who worked tirelessly and energetically to advance Latin American business, education, and culture globally,” said Americas Society, Council of the Americas (AS/COA) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Susan Segal. “He was a dear friend of our organisations and many of our members, and we are profoundly saddened to learn of his passing.”

Gustavo Cisneros served as the media, entertainment, telecommunications group’s Chairman until his passing. Throughout his career, he was lauded for his commitment to “leadership and excellence as a board member and advisor for numerous hemispheric and international firms and organisations and he was dedicated to supporting quality education in programming across Latin America, and particularly in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela”.

“What always amazed me until the very end was how ahead of his time he always was,” said his daughter and third-generation CEO, Adriana Cisneros, to The Miami Herald. “There would be so many ideas that he would mention to us, and we would say, ‘What are you talking about?’ And then we would see, years later, he was absolutely right because he sort of had this ability to see the future in a way that most people can’t.”

“Gustavo’s fervour for leadership and excellence also shone through in his personal life as a devoted father and husband,” read a statement from Cisneros Media, referring to his wife of 52 years Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and three children, Adriana, Carolina and Guillermo. “He was steadfast in guiding his family, instilling core values of respect and integrity. Together with his wife, he forged a bond of deep understanding, mutual respect, and unwavering support, striking a harmonious balance between his professional obligations and his profound love for his family.”


Shepherd family to sell Portakabin firm for £1.5 billion
The family behind the modular building firm Portakabin and inventors of the ubiquitous Portaloo mobile toilets are in talks for a £1.5 billion sale.

According to a report by Sky News, the Yorkshire-based company, which was founded in 1890 by Frederick Shepherd, are discussing the sell-off with French investment company Antin Infrastructure Partners.

“Sources in the private equity industry said that Antin was ‘serious’ about completing a deal, although it was unclear whether a transaction would ultimately be concluded,” said Sky News, while Shepherd Group and Antin both declined to comment further.

The Shepherd Group, which reportedly enlisted private bank Rothschild & Co to launch a sales process in mid 2023, have seen the popularity of their products rise over the past few decades, with Portaloo toilet units in particularly high demand at music festivals and sporting events. Portakabin currently operates in seven countries and employs around 2,200 people, according to its website.

A similar sale for the modular building company Modulaire was acquired by Brookfield from TDR Capital in 2021 for up to $5 billion.

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