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Why LVMH Has Parked Billions in Belgium

BusinessWeek - Sep 14, 2012

There are new twists to the Belgian saga of LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault.

Investment vehicles associated with French luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (MC) have amassed assets totaling €4 billion ($5.2 billion) in neighboring Belgium, where Arnault, LVMH’s principal shareholder as well as its chairman, recently applied for citizenship.

Belgian central bank records show that 12 companies and a private foundation, all connected to LVMH and based in Brussels, have more than tripled their assets since 2008. Olivier Labesse, an LVMH spokesman, says the companies are investment vehicles for $26 billion-a-year LVMH, which he says has made Belgium its “operational center of finance” in recent years to take advantage of more-favorable tax treatment there. Other European companies are doing likewise, he says. The shifting of assets to Belgium “has nothing to do” with Arnault’s personal tax situation, says Labesse.

Arnault, 63—France’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $25 billion—has sparked an uproar by seeking Belgian citizenship, just as President François Hollande plans to impose a 75 percent tax on incomes of more than €1 million. Belgian income and inheritance taxes are significantly lower than in France, and unlike France, Belgium does not impose a tax on personal wealth. The LVMH boss has said he will retain his French citizenship and will continue to pay French taxes.

Read Full Article from BusinessWeek

- Posted: 2012-09-14 22:32:46

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