Edouard Carmignac, France’s Rebel Billionaire
France’s legendary fund manager, Edouard Carmignac, attacks French President François Hollande in newspaper advertisements – because no one else dares to, as he says. Gesche Wüpper reports for Die Welt.
He is one of France’s best-known fund managers. And he does not mince words – especially not when the ruling political class steers the country in the wrong direction. Now, Édouard Carmignac, head of fund company Carmignac Gestion, has mixed himself into politics again.
In a letter, which he published as an advertisement in several European newspapers, he takes the economic policies of President François Hollande to the butcher. It was “almost suicidal” that the socialist government was not in a position to present a credible plan to reduce government spending, states the letter. “Almost nine months ago, I pointed your attention to the historical opportunity you had at hand, bidding you to reform our country profoundly, with the support of the entire nation,” writes Carmignac. “I also took the liberty to make you aware of the serious consequences of the first projects announced by your government. Since my fears apparently went unheeded, I hereby wish to inform you that, in my opinion, following the current course of action will lead France into a triple dead-end: economic, political and moral.”
Born in 1947, armed with a similar ad campaign, Carmignac has tried in the past year to influence the debate over the planned introduction of a wealth tax in France. He also provided material for discussion in 2011, when he criticized the crisis management tactics of the outgoing head of the European Central Bank in a farewell letter to Jean-Claude Trichet. An extremely unusual behavior for a financial entrepreneur.
As head of an independent company, Carmignac has the opportunity to express himself freely, said Didier Saint-Georges, one of his closest aides and a member of the Investment Committee of Carmignac Gestion. “Only very few large asset managers can afford to do this.” The fund entrepreneur takes this freedom to defend the interests of its customers, so Saint-Georges.
The son of a diplomat – Carmignac spent his childhood in Peru, until the age of twelve – is regarded as one of Europe’s best fund managers. He draws his self-confidence from his economic success. Carmignac’s company is one of the most respected in the industry and manages more than 50 billion euros.
Interestingly enough, Carmignac originally wanted to be a rock star. But in the long run, it probably would have become too boring for him to always be playing the same song, he once joked. So after studying economics in Paris and earning an MBA from New York’s Columbia University, he started a banking career in New York.
These days, Carmignac indulges his love of music by engaging rock stars for private performances. Just like in October of last year, when the Rolling Stones were playing just for him and his guests. When it comes to making people happy, he does not count money, Carmignac said at the time. “But I did not pay just any amount of money. The price was very reasonable, although it was certainly more expensive than Mireille Mathieu.” The house concert of the Stones cost less than ten million euros, according to rumors.
Noble giant Andy Warhol portraits of Mao and Lenin adorn the walls of his office on the Place Vendome in Paris. The images of “the two most successful terrorists in the world” was a daily reminder to remain vigilant, says Carmignac. Besides contemporary art, he also collects beautiful women, according to Parisian tabloids. He is said to be a free spirit in his private life as well.
The same line of thinking is also evident when it comes to dealing with his children. Carmignac made ??no rules there and let them choose their own careers. His son Charles is the lead guitarist of the band Moriarty, and his daughter Lucrèce is an actress. So far, only 33-year-old Maxime is preparing to follow in the footsteps of her father at Carmignac Gestion.