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Billionaire L'Oreal family hires Lazard banker for wealth fund

[PARIS] L'Oreal SA's biggest investor, the Bettencourt-Meyers family, hired Lazard Ltd managing partner Alexandre Benais to invest some of the hundreds of millions of euros in dividends paid each year by the cosmetics maker.

Mr Benais will be deputy chief executive officer in charge of finance and investments at Tethys, the holding company that manages the Bettencourt-Meyers family wealth, according to a statement on Monday. Mr Benais was also appointed CEO of Tethys Invest, a new fund through which the family intends to make long-term investments. The 40-year-old banker will take up his position later this month.

Liliane Bettencourt is Europe's wealthiest woman with a net worth of more than US$33 billion derived from the family's 33 per cent stake in L'Oreal, the Paris-based company that controls Lancome and Garnier. She inherited her father's stake in 1957 and retains ownership of the fortune, which has been managed by her daughter and two grandsons since 2012.

The new fund's investments will be partly funded by L'Oreal dividends, a spokeswoman for Tethys said Tuesday. Based on the family's holding, Tethys got about US$543 million in dividend payments in 2015 and will be paid about US$624.4 million this year.

Benais was among the advisers to L'Oreal when the company bought back an 8 percent holding in its stock from from Nestle SA in 2014. Before joining Lazard in 2005 he worked at Societe Generale SA.


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