PARIS (Reuters) – French billionaire Olivier Dassault was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash, a police source said, with President Emmanuel Macron paying tribute to the 69-year old conservative politician.
Dassault was the eldest son of late French billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault, whose namesake Dassault Aviation, builds the Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper.
“Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of industry, lawmaker, local elected official, reserve commander in the air force: during his life, he never ceased to serve our country, to value its assets. His sudden death is a great loss. Thoughts on his family and loved ones,” Macron said on Twitter.
The private helicopter crashed on Sunday afternoon in Normandy, where he has a holiday home, according to a police source. The pilot was also killed.
A lawmaker for the conservative Les Republicains party since 2002, Dassault was considered the 361st richest man in the world alongside his two brothers and sister, with wealth of about 6 billion euros ($7.15 billion) mostly inherited from his father, according to the 2020 Forbes rich list.
He stepped down from his role on the board of Dassault due to his political role to avoid any conflict of interest.
Olivier, seen as the favourite of founder Marcel, was once considered favoured to succeed Serge at the head of the family holding, but that role went to former Dassault Aviation CEO Charles Edelstenne.
“Great sadness at the news of the sudden passing of Olivier Dassault,” Valerie Pecresse, a conservative politician who is president of the Paris region, said on Twitter.
“A businessman, but also a renowned photographer, he had a passion for politics in his blood, rooted in his department of Oise. My warm thoughts to his family.”
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(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru and Paris Newsroom; Editing by William Maclean, Catherine Evans and Frances Kerry)