BERNARD Arnault, boss of LVMH , is the richest man in the world with a net worth of £135bn ($191bn).
In May 2021 he surpassed Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man thanks to LVMH’s rise in share price throughout the pandemic. Arnault has more wealth than 150 million Americans, Europeans and Brits combined.
So you would think that throughout a pandemic someone like Bernard Arnault would not require any assistance from the state because if you are very wealthy you should not need to go on to welfare or furlough.
Here in the UK, people who have more than £16,000 in savings are not allowed to claim welfare, which is the law. Well, that is not the law for France’s richest man and the ECB.
In early 2020 LVMH embarked upon a borrowing process called a ‘corporate bond issue’ – in summary, LVMH created a debt bond and sold it off to investors willing to lend it money via buying the issued bond. A corporate bond is just like a government bond but for businesses, these types of bonds usually pay a higher interest rate than government bonds because the risk of a company default is higher than the risk of a government default.
LVMH’s corporate bond issue raised £8.85bn ($12.56bn) for the company and this capital was used to finance its £11bn ($15.8bn) takeover of the Tiffany brand. And here is the crazy part: the ECB, with approval from the EU, directly purchased 20% of this bond at a total cost of around £2.1bn, which was part of the ECB’s £155bn ‘corporate sector purchase program’ (CSPP).
So the ECB funded a part of LVMHs takeover of Tiffany at an interest rate of literally 0%. Some tranches in this bond have been priced so that it will be subject to a negative interest rate of -0.06%. Financially speaking this is madness and borderline corporatism. Even Wall Street was unhappy about the ECB’s decision to fund the Tiffany takeover and it accepts trillions from the Fed without moaning. Talk about a sign of the times.
The ECB funding company takeovers such as Tiffany’s is a perfect example of crony capitalism mutating into neofeudalism.
With mergers and takeovers, layoffs are usually a part of the ‘cost cutting’ plan. Outsourcing of production, asset sales, streamlining of practices, reallocation of debt and many other things all come into play. So it is without a doubt that jobs within Tiffany will be merged with jobs within LVMH and jobs will be lost for current workers of Tiffany.
The ECB knew the result of investing in the takeover of Tiffany would be more financialisation and fewer jobs, as well as a deprivation of capital that could be used for productive investments after the pandemic passes. But the ECB went ahead and purchased £2.1bn of debt from a company owned by the world’s richest man, who happens to be worth an equivalent of 7% of the GDP of France.
No wonder there are regular riots in France when cronyism and monetary robbery on an unprecedented scale like this is occurring.
The ECB and BoE funded three billionaires with a combined net worth of over £175bn: the Wertheimers, Bernard Arnault and Joe Lewis
Central banks are now directly funding big corporations and multi billionaires.
Even the Bank of England has got in on the racket; they funded billionaire Joe Lewis’s Tottenham Hotspur FC with £175m, and lent the French Wertheimer family of billionaires – the owners of luxury goods brand Chanel – some £600m from its QE programme.
Do you think the average British and European citizen would get a loan or a mortgage at a 0% to 0.5% interest rate? Hell no! So why do central banks offer great terms to billionaires and corporations, but deprive their citizens of this access? I will give you one answer; ‘crony capitalism’ and the long-term unofficial merger between the state and the corporation.
If billionaires like the Wertheimers, Joe Lewis and Bernard Arnault can get access to this taxpayer pool of capital then there are some serious questions that need to be answered.
Unelected central bank officials with minimal accountability funding three billionaires with a combined net worth of more than £175bn is like three wealthy Romans plundering the Roman treasury before the bread and circuses run out.
We humans have a weird way of repeating history without learning anything from our historic mistakes. If we let these practices run free while being divided over culture wars then we will only have ourselves to blame for the end result.