France's richest man applies to be Belgian, says not a tax move
PARIS (Reuters) - Bernard Arnault, France's richest man and chief executive of luxury group LVMH, said on Saturday he had applied for Belgian nationality, citing personal and business reasons.
Announcing the move a day after French President Francois Hollande said he would press ahead with a new tax on the super rich, Arnault said he would continue to pay taxes in France and keep his French nationality.
Hollande drew a mixed reaction in February when he announced plans for a 75 percent tax on revenue exceeding 1 million euros per year as part of efforts to cut France's public deficit to 3 percent of economic output in 2013.
Arnault, who emigrated to the United States during the last Socialist presidency in 1981, has been critical of Hollande's tax initiative, telling Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday he opposed the move.
But he was not becoming Belgian to cut his tax bill, he said.
"Contrary to information published today, Bernard Arnault clarifies that he is and will continue to be a fiscal resident in France. His possible acquisition of Belgian nationality will not change this situation or his determination to develop LVMH and create jobs in France," he said.
Arnault is ranked as the world's fourth richest man with a total wealth of $41 billion, according to Forbes magazine. In a year, he jumped from seventh position, benefiting from his company's rising sales in Asia.
Following newspaper reports on Friday that the government was preparing to water down the February tax pledge, Hollande and cabinet heavyweights said it would go ahead as promised.
"The French are going to be called on to make an effort," Hollande said. "There will be budget savings and solidarity will be necessary, especially from high earners who must contribute more."
British Prime Minister David Cameron triggered a war of words with France at the G20 summit in Mexico in June by vowing to "roll out the red carpet" for French firms if Hollande followed through on his plan to tax the wealthy more.
(Reporting By John Irish; Editing by John Stonestreet)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this
- U.S. strikes have slowed Iraq militants but not weakened them - Pentagon
- Comedian Joan Rivers remains in serious condition at N.Y. hospital
- Exclusive: Reliance plans $13 billion projects including new refinery
- Ukraine seeks to join NATO; defiant Putin compares Kiev to Nazis
- Swedish carrier backs out as first Bombardier CSeries operator
Ukraine called on Friday for full membership in NATO, its strongest plea yet for Western military help after accusing Russia of sending in armoured columns that have driven back its forces on behalf of pro-Moscow rebels. Full Article
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif distances himself from army as crisis drags on. Full Article
Captain of doomed S.Korea ferry says lack of checks was customary - Yonhap. Full Article