World’s Richest Lose $8 Billion as Financial Markets Fall

The 20 richest people on Earth lost a combined $8 billion this week as markets fell on concerns that the global economic rebound was slowing.

Mukesh Ambani’s fortune fell $1.4 billion, dropping his net worth to $23.9 billion. The chairman of Mumbai-based Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), operator of the world’s biggest oil-refining complex, is 16th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s wealthiest people. The 54-year-old mogul was 14th on the list a week ago.

“Asian markets have fallen in recent days on the back of concerns that China’s economy continues to slow,” Mike Werner, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said in a March 22 e-mail. “China’s industrial activity disappointed last month and there has been renewed concerns about troubled loans emerging at the Chinese banks.”

Global markets fell on news that manufacturing in Europe and China contracted and sales of new U.S. homes fell in February. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 3 percent during the week to close at 20,668.80. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 0.5 percent, closing yesterday at 1397.11.

Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man, lost $1.2 billion as shares of his Hong Kong-based Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. (1), which makes up more than half of his fortune, declined 7.23 percent during the week. The billionaire, 83, has a net worth of $24.3 billion, making him the world’s 14th richest person.

Europe, Brazil

European retail magnate Bernard Arnault lost almost $2 billion after shares of his LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC), the world’s largest luxury-goods company, fell 5.2 percent in Paris trading this week. Arnault, 63, ranks fifth on the index with a net worth of $42.3 billion.

Brazil’s Eike Batista, 55, whose commodity empire includes a majority stake in OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA, saw his fortune decrease 4.6 percent to $26.8 billion. OGX, Brazil’s second-biggest oil company by market value, fell 4.5 percent yesterday after reporting lower-than-expected output. Batista’s fortune is up 19.3 percent, or $4.3 billion, this year.

Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), saw his fortune rise $375 million. On March 19, the company said it will open the Sands Cotai Central casino resort on April 11 in Macau, China. He’s now the 11th-richest person on the index with a net worth of $26.3 billion.

Adelson, 78, and his wife Miriam, have donated at least $15 million to Winning Our Future, a super-PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

World’s Three Richest

Carlos Slim, the 72-year-old telecommunications tycoon who controls Mexico’s America Movil SAB, remained the world’s richest man with a net worth of $69.2 billion. He lost $210 million during the week.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, 56, ranked second with a net worth of $63.1 billion. Warren Buffett, 81, is worth $45.5 billion, up $26 million for the week. He ranks third. The world’s three richest are up a combined $17.4 billion year to date.

Stefan Persson, 64, chairman of Swedish clothing giant Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB), is worth $24.6 billion and may get richer next week. The company, Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, reports earnings on March 29.

Twelve analysts covering the company have an average estimate of 1.91 Swedish krona ($0.28) a share, which would be 21 percent higher than the first quarter in 2011.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg, 12 analysts have buy ratings on the company, while 11 have holds and 10 have sell ratings.

To contact the reporter on this story: David De Jong in New York at ddejong3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew G. Miller at mmiller144@bloomberg.net

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