With a fortune estimated by Challenges to 17.5 billion euros in 2011, Liliane Bettencourt is the richest woman in France and the second in the world. Liliane Bettencourt is the 15th richest person in the world.
Only daughter of the founder of L’Oreal, the leader in cosmetics in the world, Liliane Bettencourt chairs Tethys, the family holding company which owns nearly a third of L’Oreal.
In 1909, Eugène Schueller, Liliane’s father developed a revolutionary process in order to color hairs without damaging it. Two years later, he created the “Société Française de teintures inoffensives pour cheveux”. A company which grows quickly thanks to the acquisition of Monsavon in 1920. In 1939, the company changes in name to L’Oreal.
In 1936, Liliane Bettencourt is intern in the company. She works in different departments and learns the mode of operation of L’Oreal, already successful.
In 1950, she married André Bettencourt, member of the government under the presidency of René Coty, Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou.
Upon the death of his father in 1957, Liliane Bettencourt inherited the company. More passionate about art and cinema than business, she is not interested in the presidency of the group. However the heiress is associated to every strategic decisions of the group. In 1974, she supported the entry of Nestlé in the capital of the group. In 1995, she convinced President Lindsay Owen-Jones to acquire Gemey Maybelline, specialized in teenager’s cosmetics.
She also ensures that research is the priority of L’Oreal group.
In 1987, Liliane Bettencourt created the Foundation Schueller-Bettencourt: the opportunity for her “to give back what she received”. Implicated in scientific research, she also supports cultural projects. The Foundation devoted 7 billion of euros to its different actions.
In January 2012, Liliane Bettencourt leaves the board of directors of L'Oréal.
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