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Apple, French firms pledge millions to rebuild Notre Dame after fire

Category: Finance,Retail

French companies including L'Oreal and luxury groups LVMH and Kering have pledged millions of euros to help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris after it was severely damaged in a fire Monday night.

Francois-Henri Pinault, whose Artemis holding company owns a controlling stake in Kering, pledged 100 million euros ($113 million), while Bernard Arnault, chair of LVMH, gave 200 million euros. Kering owns labels such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, while LVMH's star brands include Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Moet & Chandon champagne.

"This tragedy is striking all the French people, and beyond that, all those attached to spiritual values. Faced with this tragedy, everyone wishes to give life back to this jewel of our heritage as soon as possible," Pinault, chair of Artemis said in a statement.

Meanwhile, cosmetics group L'Oreal and its majority shareholder the Bettencourt Meyers family and the Bettencourt Schueller foundation said they would donate 200 million euros, according to a Reuters report.

French energy company Total will also contribute 100 million euros, its CEO Patrick Pouyanne said Tuesday, Reuters reported, while consulting firm Capgemini will donate 1 million euros, it said in an online statement.

In addition to these companies, Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere, CEO of Fimalac, an investment group focused on digital media and real estate, pledged 10 million euros, according to a Reuters report.

French outdoor advertising group, JCDecaux, pledged 20 million euros to rebuilding efforts while financial services company Societe Generale pledged 10 million euros. The IT services group, Capgemini pledged 1 million euros.

Supermarket and retail company Groupe Casino said that its Franprix and Monoprix stores would implement price-rounding operations to help support foundations aiding with the repairs, Reuters reported.

Air France and Air France-KLM also pledged their support to the rebuilding of Notre Dame.

In a joint statement from the airlines, the company said that "All Air France and Air France-KLM teams around the world have been deeply affected and saddened since yesterday."

This is why Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, with Anne-Marie Couderc, chairman of Air France-KLM, and Anne Rigail, CEO of Air France have decided that the company will provide free transport for all official partners involved in reconstructing the famed cathedral. In addition to this, the Air France-KLM group will be setting up a voluntary donations fund for its customers to help finance these efforts.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple tweeted on Tuesday morning that the company will be donating to the rebuilding efforts to help restore Notre Dame as well.

Apple didn't immediately return a call seeking additional information about the donation.

LVMH added that it would give France access to its creative, architectural and financial experts to assist in the reconstruction.

Construction group Vinci called on all building companies in France to work together to repair Notre Dame in an "industry-wide skills sponsorship drive," according to a press release from the company. Bouygues Group said they would join this skills sponsorship while Martin Bouygues, who oversees a telecoms to construction conglomerate, tweeted on behalf of himself and his brother Olivier, pledging to donate 10 million euros.

"The Arnault family and the LVMH Group, in solidarity with this national tragedy, are committed to assist with the reconstruction of this extraordinary cathedral, symbol of France, its heritage and its unity," LVMH said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.

Notre Dame is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, attracting millions of tourists each year. The 850-year-old building was being renovated and French officials said the cause of the fire could be related.


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