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# 441 Jean-Michel Besnier $5.77B

Random fact: Company's Lactopole is the world's largest dairy museum.


Besnier and his two siblings own all of Lactalis, the world's largest maker of cheese. The Laval, France-based company has about 260 production sites in 50 countries, about 85,000 employees and annual revenue of 22 billion euros ($24 billion) in 2021. The billionaire's grandfather founded the closely held business in 1933.

As of :
Last change -$10.1M ( -0.2%)
YTD change +$214M ( +3.9%)
Biggest asset Groupe Lactalis
Country / Region France
Age 55
Industry Food & Beverage
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Jean-Michel Besnier's net worth of $5.77B 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
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Misc. liabilities
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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. The remaining value of the Besnier family’s shareholding in BSA is attributed to Jean-Michel's brother, 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: Unknown, No children

Jean-Michel Besnier was born in Paris, France, the son of Michel Besnier, the head of closely held dairy producer Besnier on June 5, 1967.

His grandfather, Andre, set up the family’s dairy business in 1933 through creating 17 camembert cheeses. Andre called these first products ‘Le Petit Lavallois’ in reference to the company’s location in Laval, western France, and grew Besnier to 25 employees by the end of the 1940s.

Jean-Michel’s father, Michel, took the company over from Andre after his death in 1955. He led Besnier into other European markets and the US, and changed the company’s name to ‘Lactalis’ in 1999 to make its title easier to pronounce worldwide. Jean-Michel’s younger brother, Emmanuel, became the milk-maker’s chief executive officer following their father’s sudden death the following year. Since then, Emmanuel 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, Emmanuel 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 withdrew 12 million boxes of baby milk due to an outbreak of salmonella at one its factories.

  • 1933 Lactalis is founded by Besnier's grandfather Andre in Laval, France.
  • 1955 Besnier's father Michel takes over operations at the family company.
  • 1999 The family company changes its name from Besnier to Lactalis.
  • 2000 Father Michel dies suddenly. Brother Emmanuel takes over as Lactalis CEO.