Those French who decide to disinherit their children

By Stephanie Hammer

Published today at 05:00

Jean-Pascal Archimbaud is not the type to pretend. He smiles when he wants, annoying in vain, breaks off. At 60, the gruff boss of the Archimbaud Group, who has made the family sawmill near Niort the European market leader for wooden pallets (100 million euros in sales, 450 employees), rules far and wide.

Son of grain farmers from Deux-Sèvres, of Protestant descent, he swears “money is poison” wears faded velvet trousers and drives a Tesla, the only ostensible sign of wealth, on the slightly dingy roads of Périgné, a family stronghold fifteen minutes from Melle. If he flies by jet to his professional appointments all over Europe, he is sometimes content with the village vet when he needs an emergency prescription. Her stone house, like her neighbors’, stands a few bends away from that of an old cousin whose end of the garden is littered with her family’s tombstones.

“Either I sell everything, I go to the Bahamas and I’ll one day leave you enough to go two generations off work, but I don’t want that. Either I do something that looks like me to help the territory…” Jean-Pascal Archimbaud, Managing Director

The divorced and single father led the management of his company as the ultra majority shareholder (75%) for a long time. In 2016, while he was preparing for his successor and while there were many attractive takeover offers (especially from foreign companies), he reunited his three children. “Either I sell everything, I go to the Bahamas and I’ll one day leave you enough to go two generations off work, but I don’t want that. Either I do something that looks like me to help the territory…” he asked without further explanation.

As usual, he made the decision alone and chose to sell all his shares irrevocably and inalienably to his shareholder foundation, a model of endowment fund widespread in northern Europe but still extremely rare in France, where family wealth is usually passed from generation to generation to the generation… The Archimbaud Fund for Man and Forest will therefore manage the company and receive dividends which, by law, it must grant entirely for purposes of general interest dear to the family.

In 2020, the patriarch transferred, before a notary, 25% of his shares to this foundation, or 12 million euros out of the 40 million he intends to give before his death. His children, Pierre-Louis, educator, Claire, architect, and Paul, who founded his IT start-up, all in their thirties, with tousled hair and stale jeans – the family trademark – see no disadvantage in this. They grew up in Melle, went to public school, bathed in the river with the local children, worked and settled with their children in the surrounding villages. “Our father’s biggest fear was that we wouldn’t do anything. whether we are retired laughs Claire, 36, enjoying a piece of terrine.

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