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French industrialist Serge Dassault dies at 93

May 29, 2018

France's fourth-richest man was not only a giant of industry, but also an influential figure in the country's politics and media scenes. Former French President Nikolas Sarkozy said he had "lost a friend."

Serge Dassault, CEO Dassault Group
Image: Getty Images/AFP/E. Piermont

Serge Dassault, the head of aerospace giant Dassault Group and one of France's richest men, died on Monday in his Paris office. He was 93.

Dassault was the chairman and CEO of Dassault Group and president of honor of Dassault Aviation. He died of heart failure, according to his family.

"In Serge Dassault, France has lost a man who dedicated his life to developing a jewel of French industry," said President Emmanuel Macron.

Former French President Nikolas Sarkozy wrote on Twitter that France had "lost a great industrialist" and he himself had "lost a friend."

Read more: European aviation firms Airbus, Dassault, Alenia poised to produce military drones

Following father's footsteps

Dassault was born in 1925 to Marcel Bloch, a Jewish engineer who founded the Dassault company after surviving the Buchenwald Nazi death camp during World War II.

After studying engineering, Dassault joined his father's firm and took over the helm after Bloch died in 1986.

Under his leadership, Dassault consolidated itself as one of Europe's major military aviation manufacturers, delivering its signature Rafale line of fighter aircraft to the French military and air forces around the world.

Read more: Qatar signs deal on French Rafale fighter jets


Dassault, whose fortune was most recently estimated to be worth €19 billion ($22.6 billion) by Forbes magazine, also exerted influence in French politics as a socially-conservative mayor and senator for the center-right Les Republicains party.

In 2004, he became a prominent figure in French media with his appointment as president of Le Figaro following Dassault Group's purchase of the daily newspaper.

His career was nevertheless plagued by scandals, including allegations he tried to buy votes as mayor of the Parisian suburb of Corbeil-Essonnes and a 2017 tax fraud conviction that barred him from political office.

Dassault is survived by his wife, Nicole, and four children.

amp/cmk (AP, AFP, dpa)

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