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# 222 Emmanuel Besnier $9.35B

Random fact: A third of revenue comes from cheese and a quarter from milk.


Besnier and his two siblings own all of Lactalis, the world's largest maker of cheese. The Laval, France-based company has 260 production sites in 50 countries, about 85,000 employees and annual revenue of 22 billion euros ($24 billion) in 2021. The billionaire is chairman of the closely held business.

As of :
Last change -$16.3M ( -0.2%)
YTD change +$347M ( +3.9%)
Biggest asset Groupe Lactalis
Country / Region France
Age 52
Industry Food & Beverage
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Emmanuel Besnier's net worth of $9.35B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Besnier's fortune is derived from his stake in BSA, the holding company that controls the closely held dairy-maker founded by his grandfather in 1933. The Besnier family owns 100% of BSA, according to a November 2016 regulatory filing from the company’s acquisition of Romanian dairy company Albalact SA.

Besnier and his two siblings each control about 25% of BSA through their stakes across three holding companies, according to company filings. The remaining value of the Besnier family’s shareholding in BSA is attributed to Emmanuel to reflect his status as Groupe Lactalis’s chairman.

Lactalis is the world's largest maker of cheese, has about 260 production sites in 50 countries and 85,000 staff worldwide, according to its website. The Laval, France-based company had annual revenue of 22 billion euros ($24 billion) in 2021, according to its 2021 annual report.

Besnier didn't respond to e-mailed requests for comment sent to Lactalis.


Family: Married, 3 children

Emmanuel Besnier was born in Laval, France, the son of Michel Besnier, the head of closely held dairy producer Besnier on September 18, 1970. After completing his education at home, he left Laval to attend the Institut Superieur de Gestion, a Paris business school.

Besnier became head of development at the family company in 1995, and oversaw a number of acquisitions in the late 1990s. When his father died in June 2000, Besnier became chief executive officer of the milk maker, which had been renamed Lactalis. Since then he has overseen a series of acquisitions, including a 2006 takeover of Italy's leading cheesemaker, Galbani, and the purchase of Rachel's, a UK manufacturer of organic yogurts.

Lactalis was forced to reveal its 2010 financial statements and ownership structure as part of a 2011 offering document the company released when it bought Parmalat, an Italian dairy and fruit juice producer. The same year, Besnier blocked the sale of Lactalis products to Leclerc, a French supermarket chain with more than 500 stores in the country, over its pricing policy. The dispute was resolved in January 2012. Six years later, Lactalis was forced to withdraw 12 million boxes of baby milk due to an outbreak of salmonella at one its factories.

Besnier is protective of his privacy, according to French business weekly LePoint. On the morning of his wedding to his wife, Sandrine, he awoke to find French billboard billionaire Jean-Claude Decaux had plastered messages of congratulations on the signage rented by Laval. Besnier ordered his staff to take them all down. 

He lives in Paris with his wife and their three children.

  • 1933 Lactalis is founded by Besnier's grandfather Andre in Laval, France.
  • 1955 Besnier's father Michel takes over operations at the family company.
  • 1970 Emmanuel Besnier is born in Le Mans, France.
  • 1985 Purchase of Nestle subsidiary Claudel Roustang.
  • 1999 The family company changes its name from Besnier to Lactalis.
  • 2000 Father Michel dies suddenly. Besnier takes over as Lactalis CEO.
  • 2011 Cuts off supplies to French supermarket Leclerc after a pricing dispute.
  • 2011 Takes control of 83.3 percent of Italian dairy product maker Parmalat.