World’s Richest Lose $1.5 Billion as Zuckerberg Falls

The world’s wealthiest people lost a combined $1.5 billion this week as concerns about Greece’s potential exit from the euro area and Spain’s finances pushed the euro below $1.25 for the first time since July 2010.

Facebook Inc. (FB) co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, 28, lost the most during the week, as shares of his Menlo Park, California-based social-networking company fell 16.5 percent. Zuckerberg, who lost $3.2 billion, is the world’s 35th richest person with a $16.2 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“This is clearly a week where investors were exhibiting tremendous concern about the European and American economies and the prospects for returning to recession,” Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research Group LLC, said in a telephone interview from his Portland, Oregon offices May 25.

The S&P 500 fell 0.2 percent to 1317.82 in New York on May 25 after gaining for four straight days, leaving it up 1.7 percent for the week. The week’s rebound followed an 8.7 percent slump from a four-year high in April through May 18 that dragged the index’s price-to-earnings ratio to as low as 13.1, the cheapest valuation using reported earnings since November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The S&P 500 is down 7.1 percent since April 2.

Mexican Carlos Slim, 72, gained $592.5 million during the week, as shares of his Mexico City-based telecommunications company America Movil SAB rose 2.4 percent. Slim remains the world’s richest person with a $66.1 billion net worth.

Columbia’s Richest Man

Bill Gates ranks second on the index with a net worth of $59.8 billion -- $6.3 billion behind Slim. Gates’s nest egg rose 1.1 percent as shares of Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) fell 0.72 percent during the week. Three quarters of Gates’s fortune is held outside of Microsoft.

Colombia’s richest man debuted on the index this week. Luis Carlos Sarmiento, 79, is worth $15.6 billion, making him the 39th richest person in the world. Sarmiento owns about 63 percent of the preferred shares of publicly traded financial conglomerate Grupo Aval (PFAVAL), as well as an insurance company and a closely held real estate firm, Construcciones Planificadas SA.

Eike Batista was down $600 million during the week and is now worth $27.1 billion. The richest person in Brazil saw shares of coal producer CCX Carvao da Colombia SA surge in their first day of trading May 25. CCX, which was spun off by power producer MPX Energia SA, rose 17 percent to 8.51 reais in Sao Paulo. MPX gained 5.4 percent.

Facebook Falls

Other Facebook fortunes fell during the week. Eduardo Saverin, 30, has a $1.7 billion stake, down $324 million since the company’s IPO. According to a regulatory filing dated May 17, he owns 53.1 million shares of the company.

Sean Parker, who persuaded Zuckerberg to move to California to focus on the company full time in 2004, owns 66 million Facebook shares worth $2.1 billion, down $402 million since May 17.

“The reality is Facebook is a great business, but it is not without risk,” said Wieser, who maintains a $30 price target for the social networking company. “Investors are only just beginning to explore and understand the dynamics around Facebook the company.”

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, is not a billionaire. According to regulatory filings, Facebook will withhold 45 percent of the vested restricted stock units she has earned since joining the company in 2008, making her remaining stake worth about $440 million. The shares are being withheld to pay taxes. The company plans to release the restricted units in November 2012.

Asian Wealth

Asia’s richest man is Li Ka-Shing, who owns a controlling stake in Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (13) Li is worth $21.6 billion, making him the world’s 19th richest person. He was up $35 million during the week.

Cheng Yu Tung ranks 40th on the list. The Hong Kong-based billionaire is worth $15.6 billion; the majority of his fortune held through Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York and listed in U.S. dollars.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Coffey in Boston at bcoffey10@bloomberg.net

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

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