France to honour family business founder

By Attracta Mooney

With his successful family business, large collection of art, multi-billion-dollar fortune and football team Stade Rennais Football Club, Francois Pinault doesn’t want for much – except the privilege of being a member of France’s Legion of Honour.

But the country’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, recently announced plans to amend this – naming Pinault on the New Year's Honours list.

The founder of luxury group PPR has been made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, an award given to military personnel and civilians for their services to France, while his daughter-in-law Salma Hayek will become a Chevalier – or Knight – because of her services to the French Republic.

Hayek, best known for starring in films such as Frida and Desperado, married Pinault’s son Francois-Henri Pinault, chief executive of PPR, in 2009 and is currently promoting Puss in Boots, where she voices the character of Kitty Softpaws. The decision to name the Mexican-American actress on the list has raised more than a few eyebrows in the European country, with one former minister complaining that the awards had “lost their value”.

Meanwhile Bernard Arnault, head of rival luxury group and family business LVMH, was made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour on Bastille Day in 2011. 

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