French tycoon decides against becoming Belgian

French luxury goods billionaire Arnault decides not to become Belgian _ too much bad publicity

Associated Press

BRUSSELS (AP) -- French luxury goods billionaire Bernard Arnault has decided not to become Belgian to avoid negative publicity back home.

Arnault, one of the world's richest men, had been seeking Belgian citizenship, though he denies it was to escape his country's mighty tax man.

In interviews with several Belgian newspapers on Thursday, the chairman and CEO of the LVMH group said he had underestimated the impact that seeking double nationality would have in his home country. He was derided as just a rich man running away from Socialist President Francois Hollande's high taxes.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said it was "a personal choice. What is important is that he continues to invest in Belgium."

Arnault said the scandal over the issue had started to have a negative impact on his business.

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