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Swiss commodities billionaire to have twins

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Louis-Dreyfus's partner is Philipp Hildebrand, the former head of Switzerland's central bank. Photo: AFP
14:44 CET+01:00
Swiss multi-billionaire businesswoman Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, chair of French conglomerate Louis Dreyfus Commodities and owner of the Olympique de Marseille football team, is pregnant with twins, the company said on Monday.

The 53-year-old widow of famous French businessman Robert Louis-Dreyfus, is pregnant with twin girls, due in early April 2016," Louis Dreyfus Commodities said in a statement.

"She intends to continue to exercise her duties as (non-executive) chairperson until the birth, take a brief break and return to work full time in late April," it added.

Louis-Dreyfus was born in Russia, but acquired Swiss nationality through a first marriage, before meeting Robert Louis-Dreyfus in 1988.

The couple married in 1992 and had three sons, including a pair of twins before Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who headed Adidas among other companies before taking over the family business, died in 2009 of leukaemia.

His widow took over the company and the football team he had acquired and is now considered one of the richest women in the world, with an amassed fortune of $7.1 billion, according to Forbes.

Louis-Dreyfus's current partner is Philipp Hildebrand, 52, the former head of Switzerland's central bank and current vice president of US investment management firm BlackRock.

He served as head of Switzerland's central bank for a few year, but was forced out in early 2012 amid controversy over currency trades made by his ex-wife.

Hildebrand landed on his feet however, at BlackRock, the world's largest investment manager, with $4.5 trillion ($4.2 trillion) under its management.

 'The Tsarina'

Louis-Dreyfus meanwhile has been dubbed "the Tsarina" by Swiss media due to her Russian origins, and could easily be the heroine in an Emile Zola novel.
   
Born in the Soviet Union in 1962 with the last name Bogdanova, she lost both of her parents at the age of seven and was raised by her grandfather.
   
She arrived in Switzerland in the 1980s where her first marriage quickly broke down.
   
She remained in Switzerland after her divorce and met Louis-Dreyfus, who was 16 years her senior.
   
He was from a wealthy family and expanded his wealth through smart investments in telecommunications and sport, serving as chief executive of Adidas, among other companies, before taking over the family business.
   
The conglomerate is, among other things, involved in metal, oil, energy and commodities, as well as international shipping, telecommunications and real estate development.
 
It is especially big in agricultural commodities trading, accounting for nine percent of all trades in the sector globally.
   
Before his death, Louis-Dreyfus had asked his confidant Jacques Veyrat to take the helm of the family business.
   
But his widow, who took over as chairwoman, opposed the group's strategy and entered a two-year tug-of-war with Veyrat, who ended up leaving.
   
Margarita Louis-Dreyfus remains the non-executive chairman of the company, and also owns Olympique de Marseille, the football team that her husband bought in 1997.
   
The Sonntagsblick weekly reported at the weekend that only 40 women over the age of 50 gave birth in Switzerland last year, including nine who were 53, Louis-Dreyfus's age.

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