The 20 richest people on Earth lost a combined $11.3 billion yesterday as global markets fell after European economic growth slowed and investors weighed Greece’s chances of getting bondholders to accept a debt swap.
Warren Buffett’s fortune fell $407.3 million, dropping his net worth to $43.9 billion. The chairman of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc., his investment holding company, ranks third on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s richest people.
“Warren Buffett has no reason to worry and neither does Carlos Slim,” Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James Financial Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida, said in an interview. “It’s a buy. The world’s not going into recession.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index posted its worst drop of the year, sliding 1.5 percent as U.S. stocks declined for the third straight day. Europe’s economy shrank 0.3 percent last quarter, the European Union’s statistics office said, and the central bank’s balance sheet surged to a record 3.02 trillion euros ($3.96 trillion) last week amid crisis-fighting efforts.
Bernard Arnault and Amancio Ortega, two European retail magnates on the billionaires list, both lost about $1.2 billion. Arnault, 63, now ranks fifth on the index with a net worth of $41.2 billion after shares of his LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest luxury goods company, dropped 3.1 percent in Paris trading. Ortega, 75, who owns a 59 percent stake in fashion retailer Inditex SA, the world’s largest clothing retailer, ranks seventh with a $37.7 billion fortune. No billionaire on the index gained.
Ferrero Joins List
Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company, fell from the ranking after his fortune dropped $918 million, or 4 percent. Shares of ArcelorMittal declined 5.5 percent in Amsterdam trading. Mittal, 61, is now the 21st-richest person in the world with a net worth of $22.3 billion.
Replacing him in the index is Italy’s Michele Ferrero, whose $22.5 billion fortune makes him the world’s 18th-richest person. Ferrero owns the world’s fourth-largest chocolate maker, Ferrero SpA. The company’s products include Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates and Nutella. His net worth is up 6.6 percent this year.
Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp., saw his fortune decline $765.5 million after a drop of $680 million on March 5. He’s now the 14th-richest person on the index with a net worth of $24.3 billion.
Adelson, 78, and his wife, Miriam, exercised a warrant to buy 87.5 million common shares at $6 apiece, Las Vegas Sands said in a regulatory filing on March 5.
Brazil’s Eike Batista, 55, whose commodity empire includes a majority stake in oil company OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA, saw his fortune decrease to $29.2 billion as the Bovespa Index declined 2.8 percent, its biggest drop since October.
Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, posted its second-worst performance since 2003 last year as higher borrowing costs and a currency that surged to a 12-year high led it to underperform emerging-market peers China and India.
Larry Ellison, who owns about 22.5 percent of Oracle Corp., the world’s largest maker of database software, lost $385.7 million. The company’s shares declined about 1 percent, cutting Ellison’s fortune to $37.9 billion and making the technology mogul the world’s sixth-richest person, according to the index. His net worth is up 15 percent this year, the index shows. He trails only Bill Gates among tech billionaires.