Top 10 wealthiest individuals

 Business Chief takes a look at the top 10 richest individuals in Europe, based on the November 2019 real time reports from Forbes’ World’s Billionaires.


10. Vagit Alekperov (US$20.7bn)

Vagit Alekperov is one of the richest billionaires both in Russia and Europe. The self-made billionaire was originally a Caspian Sea oil rig worker, working his way up through the industry until he founded Lukoil in 1991. Today it is the third largest company in Russia. He is quoted: “I have devoted my whole life to work. I have no friends and acquaintances outside my business world.” Alekperov holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry and has written ‘Oil of Russia: Past, Present and Future’.

  • Citizenship: Russia

  • Occupation: Chairman of the supervisory board of Basic Element Company

  • Education: Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry


9. Giovanni Ferrero ($21.7bn)

Giovanni Ferrero became the co-CEO of family-run company Ferrero SpA in 1997 with his brother Pietro, until Pietro died in 2011. The company is best known for its confectionery including chocolate-spread product, Nutella. Ferrero stepped down as CEO in 2017, yet remained as Executive Chairman in order to focus on corporate strategy. In 2018, he broke the firm’s decades-old tradition of not conducting acquisitions by penning a deal with Nestle to acquire the entirety of its US confections for $2.8bn.


  • Citizenship: Italy

  • Occupation: Executive Chairman of Ferrero SpA

  • Education: European Schools


8. Gennady Timchenko ($22.5bn) 

Gennady Timchenko is another Russian oil mogul, with a net worth of $22.5bn. He is the founder and owner of Volga, a private investment group specialising in investments in energy and transport. He also has other large holdings including 23.5% of gas producer Novatek and 17% of chemicals manufacturing company, Sibur. According to Bloomberg, Novatek is responsible for almost 10% of Russia’s natural gas production. 

  • Citizenship: Russia

  • Occupation: Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kontinental Hockey League

  • Education: Bachelor of Arts/Science, Leningrad Mechanical Institute


7. Leonardo Del Vecchio ($23.4bn)

Leonardo Del Vecchio is an Italian businessman who founded eyewear lens producer, Luxottica in 1961, aged only 25. Luxottica has become a giant over the decades with its vast number of acquisitions including: Scarrone in 1974; Vogue in 1990; Persol in 1995; Ray-Ban in 1995; Sunglasses Hut in 2001; OPSM in 2003; Pearle Vision in 2004; Surfeyes in 2006; Cole National in 2004; and Oakley in 2007. His son Claudio is the CEO of retailer Brooks Brothers.

  • Citizenship: Italy

  • Occupation: Founder and Chairman of Luxottica

  • Education: High School


6. Leonid Mikhelson ($26.3bn)

Leonid Mikhelson is the richest man in Russia. He gained his degree in Industrial Civil Engineering from the Samara Institute of Civil Engineering in 1977, before working as a foreman in Tyumen, Siberia. Mikhelson was the General Director of Kuybyshevtruboprovodstroy until the collapse of the Soviet Union. The newly privatised oil and gas pipeline was to form the foundations for Novatek, which is today the second largest natural gas company in Russia. He often partners on investments and business with fellow Russian billionaire, Gennady Timchenko, who is also said to have close ties to President Putin. 

  • Citizenship: Russia 

  • Occupation: CEO, Chairman and major shareholder of the Russian gas company Novatek

  • Education: Samarskiy Gosudarstvennyy Arkhitekturno-Stroitel'nyy Universitet (1972–1977)


5. François Pinault (29$bn)

François Pinault is the French billionaire who founded Kering in 1963. The business originally started in the timber industry but shifted its product line to fashion following the acquisition of Gucci in 1999. The luxury fashion group also owns brands Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen. After the 2019 fire, the Pinault family pledged $113mn to the repair of Notre Dame cathedral. The family also has an extensive art collection of 3,000 pieces, including works by Picasso, Mondrian and Koons. According to Forbes, Pinault plans to open a museum in France next year.

  • Citizenship: France

  • Occupation: Businessman 

  • Education: High School


4. Beate Heister and Karl Albrecht Jr ($33.3bn) 

German siblings Beate Heister and Karl Albrecht Jr have a joint net worth as they both inherited the supermarket Aldi following the death of Karl Albrecht Sr in July 2014. Heister, her husband and son sit on the Aldi advisory board. Albrecht Jr worked in a number of roles across the discount supermarket but resigned following a cancer diagnosis.

  • Citizenship: Germany

  • Occupation: Heirs to the Aldi fortune


3. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers ($53.6bn)

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is currently the wealthiest woman in the world and the President of L'Oreal, having inherited both roles when her mother died in 2017. The French businesswoman has written a collection of commentaries on Jewish and Christian relations and also created the philanthropic organisation, Bettencourt Schueller Foundation in 1987.

  • Citizenship: France

  • Occupation: Chairwoman L'Oréal

  • Education: unknown


2. Amancio Ortega ($68.1bn)

Amancio Ortega is the richest retailer in the world and the wealthiest businessman in Spain. Ortega co-founded Inditex in 1975 with his then-wife, Rosalia Mera. Today he owns 60% of the company, including several brands such as Zara, Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear. 

  • Citizenship: Spain

  • Occupation: Business magnate




  1. Bernard Arnault (93.9bn)

Bernard Arnault is the richest man in Europe and the third richest in the world, behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Arnault owns a vast number of luxury goods brands, including Louis Vuitton, Sephora and LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton. One of his major acquisitions is that of Christian Dior, where Arnault used $15mn from his father's construction business to buy the designer brand in 1985. Arnault is also an art collector and was awarded the Museum of Modern Art's David Rockefeller Award in 2014. He has also been awarded honorary titles of Grand Officier de la Légion d’Honneur and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres.

  • Citizenship: France

  • Occupation: Entrepreneur, media proprietor, Chairman and Chief Executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE

  • Education: Bachelor of Arts/Science, Ecole Polytechnique de Paris

For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Europe.

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