PARIS, France — Bernard Arnault, chief executive officer of luxury-goods conglomerate LVMH and France’s richest man, joined other business leaders in endorsing independent presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron in the May 7 runoff against the National Front’s Marine Le Pen.
“Without hesitation, I’m voting Emmanuel Macron,” Arnault said in business daily Les Echos, which his company owns. “Everything about the campaign of Marine Le Pen, despite its dressing of sovereignty, exudes fear and weakness.”
In statements published in Les Echos earlier this week, the CEOs of 13 companies — including five members of the CAC 40 stock index — said Le Pen’s policies would severely harm the country. Her plan to reintroduce a national currency to replace the euro “would be a catastrophe for French companies and inhabitants,” wrote Antoine Frérot, CEO of utility group Veolia Environnement SA.
Although Macron had picked up endorsements from high-tech entrepreneurs such as Marc Simoncini of online-dating site Meetic and Jacques-Antoine Grandjon of e-commerce site Vente-Privee.com SA, most French CEOs had previously refrained from speaking publicly about the election.
Arnault, with a fortune of $51.4 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is the seventh-richest person in the world.
The economic program of Le Pen “poses the risk of an irremediable degradation of France,” Arnault said.
“Getting out of the euro would create unemployment and would dramatically lower the purchasing power of all French people,” he said. “The Front National proposes to level the economy toward the bottom, because it fails to understand the mechanisms of growth today.”
By Thomas Mulier; editor: Eric Pfanner.