Albert Frère

PARIS — Albert Frère, Belgium’s richest man and a close associate of French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault, has died at the age of 92.

Frère was president of investment fund Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, or GBL, which announced his passing on Monday morning.

Bought by Frère in 1982, GBL was capitalized on the stock market at 15 billion euros in September 2018. The financial holding has shares in Adidas, Pernod Ricard, Total and Imerys amongst others, and has been listed for 60 years.

“For over three decades, under [Frère’s] impulsion, GBL has become one of the biggest holdings in Europe,” said a GBL statement published on the company’s web site. “His professional and human qualities have deeply marked our group.”

Frère was born in 1926 in the Hainaut region of Belgium, near industrial hub Charleroi. The entrepreneur first based his career in the steel industry before turning to finance in the Eighties. Frère released his control over GBL in 2015 but remained chairman of the company.

Together with Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Frère bought the Château Cheval-Blanc vineyard in Saint-Emilion in 1998.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend Albert,” said Arnault, contacted by WWD. “Albert was an extraordinary man and a fantastic entrepreneur. All along these 35 years of loyal friendship, we’ve built a strong personal and professional relationship. Even more than his innate business sense, I will remember Albert for his passionate love of life, his great ability to federate and his incredible engagement in all his projects.”

An intimate ceremony will be held for Frère’s family.