May 28, 2018 / 3:32 PM / 3 months ago

French industrialist Serge Dassault dies at 93

PARIS (Reuters) - French billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault, whose group builds the Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper, died in Paris on Monday aged 93, a spokesman for Dassault Group said.

France's Serge Dassault head of Dassault Aviation reacts as he stands in the cockpit of a french made Rafale after arriving from the southern city of Istres, at Le Bourget, France, June 11, 1999. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Dassault, a former conservative senator and mayor, was the fifth richest person in France according to Challenges magazine.

The Dassault group which his father had created controls Dassault Aviation and Le Figaro, and holds major stakes in Dassault Systemes and Thales.

Dassault had passed on leadership of Dassault Aviation in 2000 but he was still chairing Dassault Group.

FILE PHOTO: Serge Dassault, head of Dassault Aviation, waves in front of a French made Rafale at Le Bourget, France, June 11, 1999. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

The family-owned Dassault Group had in 2014 appointed Charles Edelstenne as eventual successor to Serge Dassault, saying at the time that the succession would be automatic. Edelstenne is currently CEO of the group.

Dassault, a father of four, died in his Paris office around 4 pm (1400 GMT), the spokesman said.

Dassault had a number of run-ins with the law. Last year he was fined two million euros ($2.32 million) after a court found him guilty of money laundering and failing to disclose fully his wealth to authorities.

Dassault’s legal team said, in his defence, he had inherited many of the financial tax structures at the centre of the case from his father, and had since rectified his situation with French tax authorities.

($1 = 0.8604 euros)

FILE PHOTO: French Senator Serge Dassault, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Group, leaves after a meeting with politicians in Paris, France, November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

Reporting by Jean-Michel Belot; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Matthias Blamont/David Evans

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