French businesswoman and billionaire Liliane Bettencourt, whose family founded L‘Oreal and still owns the largest stake in the cosmetics giant, has died aged 94, her daughter said on Thursday.
Bettencourt, listed by Forbes as the world’s richest woman, was the heiress to the b company her father founded just over a century ago as a maker of hair dye. Her death opens a new phase for L‘Oreal, France’s fourth-largest listed company, altering the relationship it has with key shareholder Nestle.
Bettencourt and her family owned 33 percent of the company. Her daughter Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers, who sits on L‘Oreal’s board along with her own son, said in a statement the family remained committed to the company. “My mother left peacefully,” Bettencourt-Meyers said, adding that she had died on Wednesday night at her home in Paris. “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.”
In 2011, Agon was appointed the chairman and chief executive of L‘Oreal, owner of the Lancôme, Maybelline, and Garnier. Nestle, which owns just over 23% of L‘Oreal, had agreed with the founding family that the two parties could not increase their stakes during Liliane Bettencourt’s lifetime and for at least six months after her death.