Last night (4 January 2016), French conglomerate Louis Dreyfus Commodities announced that its chairwoman, 53-year-old Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, was pregnant with twins. The businesswoman and owner of the Olympique de Marseilles football team has a fortune estimated by Forbes at $7.1 bn (£4.83 bn).
Born in the USSR in what was then Leningrad and is now Saint Petersburg, Louis-Dreyfus was born Maragarita Bogdanova, studying law at Moscow State University followed by economics at the Leningrad Institute of Soviet Trade. In 1988, on a flight to London, she met Robert Louis-Dreyfus, a French businessman who went on to head the commodities giant his grandfather founded in 1851.
The pair married in 1992 and had three sons, with Margarita giving up her job selling circuit-board equipment to become a full-time wife and mother. After Robert was diagnosed with leukemia in 1997, he inducted Margarita into the business, and when he died in 2009 aged 63, he left her in the strongest position on its three-person executive board, owning 81 per cent of the holding company.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Margarita described her determination to preserve and consolidate the conglomerate for Robert's heirs, and has immersed herself in the business. "It was about protecting his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren," she said. "It's also protecting the company. What he was telling me every day were his dreams."
In October, she was appointed non-executive chairwoman of the supervisory board, succeeding Serge Schoen, with the company one of the four leading commodities traders in the world, trading raw materials including grains and orange juice.
Her current partner is former Swiss National Bank chairman Philipp Hildebrand. Margarita is to continue her duties on the board until the birth of the twin girls, which is expected in April, before taking a break, the company said in a statement.