World’s Richest Gain $15.2 Billion as Global Markets Rise

World’s Wealthiest Gain $15.2 Billion as Facebook Shares Fizzle
Amancio Ortega, general manager of Spanish textil company Zara. Photographer: Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images

The richest people on the planet added $15.2 billion to their collective net worth this week as global markets rose on speculation that Europe will move to ease borrowing costs in Italy and Spain.

The week’s biggest gainer was Spanish retail tycoon Amancio Ortega, who added $3 billion to his fortune after Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer, announced plans to build a 753,000 square-foot logistics center in Spain’s Guadalajara province. Inditex shares were up 3.8 percent for the week.

Ortega’s gain came as Spain’s unemployment rate reached 24.6 percent, the highest on record. With a net worth of $43.5 billion, the 76-year-old is Europe’s richest man, and ranks fourth on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“At the beginning of the week we had a flood of bad news, starting with Greece and culminating with Spain credit at all-time wides,” said Nelson Saiers, chief investment officer of Alphabet Management LLC, a New York-based hedge fund with more than $500 million under management. “When Mario Draghi came out midweek and said the ECB would do whatever it takes to protect the euro, that hit the brakes on the bad news and the market ripped,” he said, referring to the European Central Bank president.

U.S. stocks rose, commodities climbed and the euro strengthened yesterday amid speculation that European policy makers may take steps to ease the debt crisis. Stocks were further bolstered after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said their countries are “bound by the deepest duty” to keep the euro area intact and that they will do “everything” necessary to protect the single currency.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posted a 1.7 percent gain during the week to close at 1385.97 in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.64 percent.

Facebook Falters

Facebook Inc. co-founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, continued his slide down the ranks of the world’s billionaires as shares of the world’s largest social-networking company plunged to a record low after its first earnings report showed a slower sales gain and narrower profit margins.

The 28-year-old’s fortune plummeted $2.5 billion during the week. His fortune now stands at $12.1 billion.

Other Facebook shareholders also took a hit. Dustin Moskovitz, 28, who started the company with Zuckerberg from their dorm room at Harvard University, owns 133.7 million shares of the company’s Class B stock worth $3.2 billion, down $1.9 billion since the IPO.

Eduardo Saverin, 30, has a $1.3 billion stake, down $760 million since the offering. According to a regulatory filing dated May 17, he owns 53.1 million shares of the company.

Sean Parker owns 66 million Facebook shares valued at $1.6 billion. The 32-year-old persuaded Zuckerberg to move to California to focus on the company full-time in 2004.

Batista Gains

Eike Batista, the richest person in Brazil, gained $795 million this week amid a recovery in the shares of his commodity startups. His flagship oil company, OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes SA, jumped 12.8 percent July 27 as crude prices rose for a fourth day.

Batista’s shipbuilder, OSX Brasil SA, rallied 11.2 percent yesterday after the company’s chief executive said it’s in advanced talks for a new contract to supply oil rigs. Batista’s net worth of $21.3 billion makes him the world’s 22nd-richest person.

Jeff Bezos gained $820 million during the week. Shares of his Inc., the world’s largest Internet retailer, gained the most in three months as investors bet that investments in its distribution network will pay off by the holiday season.

Carlos Slim, 72, remains the world’s richest person. America Movil SAB, the largest wireless carrier in the Americas by subscribers, fell the most in eight weeks after a weaker Mexican peso and increasing competition damped quarterly profit. The Mexico City-based company reported a 46 percent drop in second-quarter net income after markets closed July 26.

Slim’s fortune gained $1.4 billion for the week. He now has a net worth of $75.5 billion.

Gates, Buffett

Bill Gates is $12.7 billion behind Slim. The 56-year-old Microsoft Corp. co-founder’s fortune rose $600 million as shares of the Redmond, Washington-based company fell 1.2 percent during the week.

Number three on the index is Warren Buffett, 81, who is worth $45.7 billion. The Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman agreed to buy closely held Meadowbrook Meat Co. on July 26. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The purchase would increase Buffett’s bet on food-distribution companies. In the past three years, Berkshire’s McLane Co. unit has bought Empire Distributors Inc., Horizon Wine & Spirits and Delta Wine & Spirits.

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.

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