Jane Lauder joins world’s richest in boom year for cosmetics

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MELBOURNE (Aug 20): Cosmetics heir Jane Lauder vaulted into the ranks of the world’s 500 richest people this week after shares of the cosmetics giant that bears her name surged on strong quarterly earnings and a rosy outlook for the fiscal year.

Lauder’s net worth rose US$1.5 billion this year, including a US$447 million gain Monday, bringing her fortune to US$4.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. She’s ranked No. 461 on the list, just behind New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Estee Lauder Cos and its competitors are having a strong year thanks in large part to sales growth in Asia, and that’s fattening the coffers of the biggest names in the cosmetics business. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, the richest woman on Earth, added US$6.6 billion to her fortune this year as shares of L’Oreal SA, the world’s largest cosmetics maker, climbed 18% through Monday.

Lauder, a member of the company’s board and a granddaughter of its namesake founder, is one of 69 women on the Bloomberg wealth ranking. A spokeswoman for the New York-based firm didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Shares of Estee Lauder advanced to a record Monday and the most since 2011, after posting fiscal fourth-quarter sales of US$3.59 billion and earnings per share that topped Wall Street estimates. Sales in Asia surged 25%, led by growth in China, Hong Kong and emerging markets in Southeast Asia.

Lauder, who’s married to Kevin Warsh, a former member of the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee, began working at the company in 1996. She joined the board in 2009 and became global brand president of Clinique in 2014.

Her uncle Leonard Lauder is the world’s 41st-richest person with a US$21.9 billion fortune, up US$6.8 billion this year. A sister, Aerin Lauder, is also a billionaire, though her net worth is below the ranking’s current US$4 billion cutoff.

The Lauders are the 23rd-richest family, according to Bloomberg’s family list.