Albert, Baron Frère (4 February 1926 – 3 December 2018) was a Belgian businessman and the richest man in Belgium.
|Born||4 February 1926|
|Died||3 December 2018 (aged 92)|
|Residence||Gerpinnes, near Charleroi, Belgium|
|Net worth||$5.2 billion (June 2017)|
|Spouse(s)||Nelly Depoplimont, mother of Gérald|
Christine Hennuy, mother of Ségolène and Charles-Albert
|Children||3: Gérald Frère, Ségolène, and Charles-Albert (d.1999)|
Frère grew up as a son of a nail merchant and helped in the business since an early age. His father died when Frère was 17; Frère had to leave school and run the family business by himself.
At the age of 30, he started investing in Belgian steel factories and by the end of the 1970s he practically controlled the whole steel industry in the region of Charleroi. He foresaw the coming steel crisis of the late 1970s and sold his enterprises to the Belgian state after merging them with the competing steel firm Cockerill to create Cockerill-Sambre.
Frère used the proceeds from this sale to build an investment empire around the Swiss holding company Pargesa which he founded with the Canadian investor Paul Desmarais. Pargesa took over the Belgian holding company Groupe Bruxelles Lambert in 1982 and over the year added significant stakes in such wide ranging Belgian companies as Petrofina, Royale Belge Insurance, Compagnie Luxembourgoise de Télédiffusion (CLT), and Tractebel. He actively promoted international consolidation of the sectors in which he was involved, selling Banque Bruxelles Lambert to ING Group, Royale Belge to AXA, Tractebel to Suez, Petrofina to Total S.A., and RTL to Bertelsmann.
Frère was married and had three children. His first wife was Nelly Depoplimont, and they had a son, Gérald. His second wife was Christine Hennuy, and they have had two children, Ségolène, and Charles-Albert, who died in 1999, in a car accident at the age of 19.
In 1995, he received the title of baron from the Belgian king Albert II. He was a co-owner, together with Bernard Arnault of LVMH, of the Château Cheval Blanc winery near Bordeaux. He was a member of the Cercle Gaulois.
- Albert Frère in the 2009 Forbes billionaires' list
- A discreet dynamo. The Economist, 20 April 2006.
- "Albert Frere". Forbes. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
- "Ses deux amours: l'argent et le vin - La DH". Dhnet.be. 30 July 2005. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
- Comte Humbert de Marnix de Sainte Aldegonde, Etat présent de la noblesse belge, Bruxelles, 2006, seconde partie.
- Jeroen Struys. "Freddy Thielemans wordt officier in de Franse Légion d'Honne... - De Standaard". Standaard.be. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
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