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Jose Cuervo and Tito’s bosses lead spirits billionaires

The chairman of Tequila maker Jose Cuervo and the founder of fast-growing Tito’s Handmade Vodka are among the wealthiest spirits barons named by Forbes, boasting multi-billion-dollar fortunes.

Jose Cuervo went public in 2017, raising US$900 million

Jeff Bezos, founder of e-commerce giant Amazon, was named the world’s richest man by Forbes, with a wealth of US$131 billion.

The chairman and CEO of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, was placed fourth on the list, with a net worth of US$76bn. LVMH owns the Moët Hennessy drinks subsidiary, which includes brands such as Glenmorangie Scotch and Belvedere vodka.

However, a significant portion of Arnault’s wealth will come from his luxury clothing and cosmetics chains, including Luis Vuitton and Sephora.

Juan Francisco Beckmann Vidal, chairman of Jose Cuervo, is the wealthiest billionaire whose main business is spirits, placed at #452 on the list. The tycoon, who owns a 70% stake in his Tequila company, has a net worth of US$4.3bn according to Forbes. His son, Juan Domingo Beckmann Legorreta, is CEO of Jose Cuervo.

The Tequila company, which has been owned by the same family for 11 generations, launched its initial public offering in 2017 and raised US$900 million.

Fast-growing Tito’s

Tito’s Handmade Vodka founder Bert ‘Tito’ Beveridge

Bert ‘Tito’ Beveridge built his enormously successful vodka brand, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, from the ground up, and is now the 504th wealthiest billionaire in the world, with a net worth of US$4bn.

Tito’s has managed to overcome controversy surrounding its use of the term ‘handmade’ to become one of the fastest-growing spirits brands in the US.

According to Forbes, the brand sold 63m bottles in 2017, when it also entered its 100th market. Tito’s donates 100% of proceeds from its online store to charity.

Jean-Pierre Cayard, president of La Martiniquaise, maker of Poliakov vodka and Glen Moray Scotch, was placed #691 on the list with a net worth of US$3.2bn. His father founded the French spirits firm in 1934, while his wife, Edith, is CEO of the company.

La Martiniquaise became the world’s fifth largest producer of Scotch whisky after acquiring the Cutty Sark blend from Edrington. Jean-Pierre Cayard is set to become chairman of fellow French group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits, in which La Martiniquaise owns a stake.

Luca Garavoglia, chairman of Campari Group, comes in at joint 691st place with Cayard, also boasting a wealth of US$3.2bn. Garavoglia owns an estimated 51% stake in the Italian drinks group, which recently reported a 5.3% increase in its full-year sales, boosted by the soaring global popularity of Aperol.

US pioneer

Brothers Richard and Robert Sands, of Constellation Brands, are jointly placed 838th on the list, with an estimated net worth of US$2.7bn each. The brothers built their business from a small wine operation to a global player in the wine, beer and spirits sectors.

Constellation pioneered the spirits industry’s move into cannabis with the multi-billion-dollar acquisition of a significant stake in Canadian cannabis maker Canopy Growth Corporation.

Robert Sands stepped down as CEO of the group on 1 March this year and was succeeded by its president, Bill Newlands. Robert Sands moved to the position of executive chair, while his brother became executive vice chair.

Other spirits barons named on the list include: Wu Shaoxun, chairman of Chinese liquor producer Jing Brands (#916, US$2.5bn); Charles Bronfman, former co-chairman of Seagram’s (#1008, US$2.3bn); Yuri Shefler, owner of SPI Group (#1425, US$1.6bn); and Nobutada Saji, chairman of Suntory Holdings (#1605, US$1.4bn).

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