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Luxury baron Arnault: China won't slow down my $30 billion empire

Bernard Arnault's luxurious empire
Bernard Arnault's luxurious empire

The iPhone may lose its status as the tech device du jour a few decades from now, but people will still drink Dom Pérignon, luxury baron Bernard Arnault told CNBC on Tuesday.

Such is the staying power of the brands under his banner, Arnault said. The French businessman—listed as No. 15 on the CNBC First 25 list—created the world's most successful luxury goods group, LV, when he merged Moët Hennessy and Louis Vuitton in the 1980s.

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Some 30 years later, the group brought in $39 billion in sales in 2013 and its 60 brands comprise the globe's priciest names, such as Dom Pérignon, Fendi and TAG Heuer.

In a rare television interview, Arnault told CNBC his brands have the potential to outlive technology such as Apple's iPhone, though he uses one and admires the company. The billionaire businessman also discounted fears that an economic slowdown in China could stem the growing demand for Western luxury goods there.

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"As always in China, you have ups and downs," Arnault said on "Squawk on the Street." "And in spite of what you can consider a lower level for growth, it's still growing very fast. I am confident about the future of China."

Bernard Arnault
Eric Piermont | AFP | Getty Images

As buying power increases all over the world—not just in China—Arnault said his high-end empire will benefit. It's a trend that Arnault helped make global in the 1980s in the West and Japan.

"We are matching a demand that's growing all over the world," Arnault said.

The 64-year-old Arnault said he expects that trend to continue for at least another 10 years.

"Can you say that in 20 years people would still use the iPhone?" he asked. "Maybe not. Maybe we'd have a new product or something more innovative. What I can say today, is that in 20 years, I'm quite convinced that people will still drink Dom Pérignon."

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