Europe’s 25 Richest

Europe now has 248 billionaires with a total wealth of $1 trillion. More than one-third of that wealth is held by the region’s 25 richest. Among them are the people behind some of our favorite brands and stores, like Louis Vuitton, Ikea, H&M, Nutella and Trader Joe’s. Russia takes the lead with nine of the top 25, followed by Germany and Sweden with four apiece.

Bernard Arnault

$27.5 billion
Source: LVMH

Bling is back, helping fashion icon grab title of richest European for first time as shares of his luxury goods outfit LVMH, maker of Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon, surge 57%. Renaissance man owns French tour operator Go Voyages, yacht builder Royal Van Lent; has a stake in French retailer Carrefour.

Amancio Ortega

$25 billion
Source: Zara

Style maven lords over Inditex. Fashion firm, which operates under several brand names, including Zara, Massimo Dutti and Stradivarius, has 4,500 stores in 73 countries, including new spots in Mexico and Syria. Set up joint venture with Tata Group subsidiary to enter India in 2010.

Karl Albrecht

$23.5 billion
Souce: Aldi

Owns discount supermarket giant Aldi Sud, one of Germany’s (and Europe’s) dominant grocers. Has 1,000 stores in U.S. across 29 states. Estimated sales: $37 billion. Plans to open New York store this year. With younger brother, Theo, transformed mother’s corner grocery store into Aldi after World War II

Ingvar Kamprad & family

$23 billion
Source: Ikea

Ikea’s reputation under fire. In Russia company fired two top managers for allowing bribes to a power supplier. In France firm is facing an extended workers’ strike. A former managing director has published a book exposing questionable ethics.

Stefan Persson

$22.4 billion
Source: Hennes & Mauritz

“Cheap chic” mogul is chairman of Hennes & Mauritz (H&M); promoted son, Karl-Johan, 34, to chief executive in July. Retailer is known for bringing on big names, like Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, to design affordable collections for its 1,900 stores.

Liliane Bettencourt

$20 billion
Source: L’Oreal

Makeup heiress’ fortune rebounding with L’Oreal shares. Company, founded by her father, celebrated its 100th birthday in 2009. Last year only daughter and heir, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, petitioned courts to investigate reported $1.4 billion worth of cash and gifts her mother allegedly gave to Francois-Marie Banier, 61, a well-known photographer, writer and painter she befriended. Daughter claims Banier took advantage of her mother, who became a widow in 2007. Liliane denies it.

Michael Otto & family

$18.7 billion
Source: retail

Father Werner Otto, who turned 100 last August, started out with a 14-page shoe catalog in 1949. Michael joined in 1971, expanded operations overseas and moved company into Internet sales; now world’s second biggest Internet retailer after Amazon.

Michele Ferrero & family

$17 billion
Source: chocolates

Secretive chocolate chief mulled bidding for British rival Cadbury; backed off this January. Richest man in Italy owns privately held Ferrero, chocolatier that makes such brands as Ferrero Rocher, Nutella, Tic Tac and Kinder Eggs. 2008 Sales: $8.4 billion.

Theo Albrecht

$16.7 billion
Source: Aldi, Trader Joe’s

Owns discount supermarket group Aldi Nord. With estimated sales of $34 billion, still a sector leader, but lost ground this year as flat sales and strong rivals in some of its European markets pushed down profits. Has been more successful with his U.S. holding: discount food chain Trader Joe’s 340 stores have attracted cost-conscious customers during the recession.

Vladimir Lisin

$15.8 billion
Source: steel

Russia’s richest is a proletarian success story. First job was as a mechanic in a coal mine. After college in Siberia got job as steelworker. In 1991, when his boss was appointed minister of metallurgy, Lisin came with him to Moscow.

Mikhail Prokhorov

$13.4 billion
Source: cash, investments

Bachelor billionaire making moves in the U.S. Last fall his Onexim signed an agreement to buy 45% of the Atlantic Yards development project, a stadium and apartment complex in New York, for $200 million; he will also get an 80% stake in the New Jersey Nets basketball team.

Birgit Rausing & family

$13 billion
Source: packaging

After death of her husband Gad Rausing in 2000, she and her three children inherited packaging giant Tetra Laval. It was her father-in-law who founded the company, which revolutionized the packaging of liquids such as juices and milk, in 1944. Today sales are $15.3 billion.

Mikhail Fridman

$12.7 billion
Source: oil, banking, telecom

His Alfa Group, which he shares with fellow billionaires German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev, buoyed by rising oil prices; stake in TNK-BP doubled over the past year. Interest in Alfa Bank also up; the bank recovered most of its money from borrowers like fellow billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor

& family

$12 billion
Source: real estate

The sixth Duke of Westminster is the U.K.’s wealthiest land owner. His Grosvenor property group has valuable holdings on 5 continents: posh Mayfair and Belgravia neighborhoods of London; additional land in London via private family trusts; farmland in northern England and Scotland.

Roman Abramovich

$11.2 billion
Source: steel, investments

Fortune up on steel price recovery; value of stake in steel giant Evraz increased nearly threefold. Celebrating birth of son with girlfriend and art enthusiast Dasha Zhukova. Threw New Year’s bash for his friends and partners on St. Barts, which cost a reported $5 million; BeyoncĂ©, Prince and Gwen Stefani performed.

Susanne Klatten

$11.1 billion
Source: BMW, drugs

Inherited stake in automaker BMW from late father Herbert Quandt, who rescued it from bankruptcy decades ago. A trained economist with an MBA also inherited a 50% stake in chemical manufacturer Altana and sits on supervisory board. Now controls over 95% of Altana; seeking to acquire remaining shares and delist the firm.

Oleg Deripaska

$10.7 billion
Source: aluminum

Metals magnate back from the brink. Facing margin calls and $20 billion in total debt, he removed the heads of his two largest companies and personally negotiated with the Russian government, banks and other creditors to restructure his loan obligations. This year his Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer, raised $2.2 billion in an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Vagit Alekperov

$10.6 billion
Source: Lukoil

Former Caspian Sea oil rig worker later became a deputy minister in the Soviet oil industry. In 1991 took three large ministry-controlled oil fields and set up Lukoil. Now president of Lukoil, Russia’s largest independent energy company, with a 20% stake. The firm’s reserves are second only to ExxonMobil

Leonardo Del Vecchio

$10.5 billion
Source: eyewear

Sent to an orphanage at age 7. Worked as an apprentice at a factory that made molds for auto parts, eyeglass frames. Founded Luxottica in 1961 and started making his own eyeglasses. Still chairs Luxottica, ($6.8 billion fiscal year 2008 sales) world’s largest manufacturer of sunglasses and prescription eyewear and also largest eyewear retailer.

Vladimir Potanin

$10.3 billion
Source: metals

In January became the first Russian billionaire to announce he would transfer his fortune to charity and not his children. Plans to list Russia’s largest media group, Prof-Media, which owns magazines, radio stations, movie theaters and broadcasts Russian versions of MTV and VH-1, this year.

Ernesto Bertarelli & family

$10 billion
Source: biotech

Inherited biotech firm Serono when father died in 1998. Ran for years; grew revenues to $2.4 billion in 2006. Blockbuster drug: $1.4 billion (annual sales) multiple sclerosis therapy Rebif. Sold company to Germany’s Merck 2007. With his sister, took home $9 billion. Lost America’s Cup to yachting rival Larry Ellison in February.

Hans Rausing

$10 billion
Source: packaging

Father founded packaging giant Tetra Laval in 1944. Hans and brother Gad inherited the business. Hans sold his share to Gad for estimated $7 billion in 1995. Moved to U.K. in early 1980s to avoid punitive Swedish taxes. Resides on a 900-acre estate in village of Wadhurst in East Sussex.

Alexei Mordashov

$9.9 billion
Souce: steel

Chief executive and controlling shareholder of steelmaker Severstal relieved by steel price recovery; stock price up nearly threefold from last year’s lows. Recently announced the company’s gold unit will buy up foreign assets to expand production of the high-flying metal.

Viktor Rashnikov

$9.8 billion
Source: steel

In January reaffirmed partnership with billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky’s TMK, one of the largest customers of his iron and steel producer, MMK. Began career at Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel mill (MMK) in 1967 as a mechanic, becoming its general director.

Silvio Berlusconi & family

$9 billion
Source: media

Suffering from more than just a bruised reputation; in December 2009, man broke the billionaire’s nose and teeth with a statue of Milan’s cathedral. Politico with 9 lives became Italy’s prime minister for a third time in April 2008 after his predecessor lost a confidence vote and new elections were held

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha