– L’Oreal heiress and world’s richest woman Liliane Bettencourt has passed on at 94
– Her daughter Francoise said her mother passed away ‘peacefully’
– She was the 14th richest person in the world according to Forbes
– She started working for L’Oreal aged 15 as an apprentice labelling bottles of shampoo
L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, the world’s richest woman, has died at the age of 94,it has emerged.
Her daughter Francoise Bettencourt Meyers said in a statement that her mother ‘left peacefully’ at her home in Paris.
Bettencourt, Cosmetic giant L’Oreal’s principal shareholder, was the 14th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine. Her networth was estimated in March at $39.5bn (£29.1bn).
She was rarely seen in public since leaving the L’Oreal board in 2012, but her name remained in the headlines as members of her entourage were charged with exploiting her failing mental health.
In 2011, Bettencourt was declared unfit to run her own affairs after a medical report showed she had suffered from ‘mixed dementia’ and ‘moderately severe’ Alzheimer’s disease since 2006.
The super successful business Mogul was born Liliane Schueller in Paris in 1922 to L’Oreal founder Eugene Schueller and Louise Madeleine Berthe – who died when Bettencourt was just five years old.
She started working for L’Oreal aged 15 as an apprentice labelling bottles of shampoo and rose through the ranks over the years.
She married French politician and future cabinet minister Andre Bettencourt in 1950. They remained together for 57 years and was blessed with one daughter Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.
She inherited L’Oreal after her father died in 1957 and remained at the helm of the company for more than five decades.
In 1987 she set up the Bettencourt Schueller foundation along with her husband and daughter. The organisation is aimed at developing humanitarian projects.
Her position at L’Oreal saw Bettencourt face a huge amount of criticism throughout her career and in 2007 she was given a Black Planet Award – an award created by the Ethecon Foundation and handed to those it deems to be destroying the planet.
Her death opens a new phase for L’Oreal, France’s fourth-largest listed company, altering the relationship it has with key shareholder Nestle, the Swiss food company.
Bettencourt and her children owned 33 percent of the company. Her daughter in her statement the family remained committed to L’Oreal and its management team.
‘I would like to reiterate, on behalf of our family, our entire commitment and loyalty to L’Oreal and to renew my confidence in its President Jean-Paul Agon and his teams worldwide.’
Agon was appointed chairman and chief executive of L’Oreal in 2011.
Nestle, which owns a little over 23 percent of L’Oreal, had an agreement with the founding family stipulating that the two parties could not increase their stakes in the cosmetics group during Liliane Bettencourt’s lifetime and for at least six months after her death.
The Swiss company has been a major investor since 1974, when Bettencourt entrusted nearly half of her own stake in the firm to Nestle in exchange for a three percent holding in the Swiss company. She took the move out of fear that L’Oreal might be nationalised if the Socialists came to power in France.
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