L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt dies aged 94

Liliane Bettencourt heiress to the L'Oreal fortune won the L'Oreal-UNESCO prize for women in Paris

What happens to a business empire when its owner dies?

French businesswoman and heiress of cosmetics giant L'Oreal OREP.PA Liliane Bettencourt, 94, has died, her daughter said on Thursday. Her husband André Bettencourt died in 2007. A widow since 2007, Ms. Bettencourt ceased to sit on L'Oreal's board in 2012. This restriction will now lift in March 2018. The Bettencourt fortune has been estimated at up to €35 billion, placing Liliane - the only child of the L'Oréal founder Eugène Schueller - at the global pinnacle of female wealth, above Alice Walton of the Wal-Mart retailing dynasty in the USA, and European contenders such as the BMW heiress Susanne Klatten.

"What should be respected as a melancholic end to an era for the Bettencourts is now set to be subsumed by speculation around the future of Nestle's 23% stake in L'Oreal", they added.

Our thoughts are with Bettencourt's friends and family.

Bettencourt-Meyers accused several individuals of exploiting her mother's deteriorating mental health, an accusation that at one point included former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. She was the daughter of the company's founder, Eugene Schueller.

Third Point announced that it could be divested in way that was tax-efficient through an offer of exchange where Nestle would give it shareholders, L'Oreal shares in exchange for their shares of Nestle.

L'Oreal had revenues of €25.8 billion ($31 billion) in 2016, making it the world's biggest cosmetics company.

She continued to own a majority stake in L'Oreal when the company went public in the 1960s.

Inheriting the L'Oreal fortune from her father in 1957, Liliane Bettencourt chose not to be directly involved in running it.

In 2008 Bettencourt-Meyers, who is on the L'Oreal board, filed a lawsuit against her mother over funds the magnate had given to a celebrity photographer and confidant.

Daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, who is on the board of L'Oreal along with her son, announced that the family was committed to L'Oreal and the management team it now has.

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