World’s Wealthiest Add $15 Billion as Global Stocks Drop

The 100 richest people on the planet limited their gains to $15.1 billion this week, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after a decline in global markets yesterday erased wealth created on better-than-forecast income and consumer spending data in the U.S.

Stocks and commodities sank around the world Friday after House Republican leaders scrapped a plan to allow higher taxes as U.S. budget talks stalled. House Speaker John Boehner yielded to anti-tax resistance within his own party, fueling concern that Republicans and Democrats will fail to agree on a budget.

“There’s still the possibility of a deal happening in the next five days,” said Walter Todd, who oversees about $940 million as chief investment officer of Greenwood Capital Associates LLC in Greenwood, South Carolina, in a telephone interview. “With the economic reports in the past two days in U.S., you couldn’t have drawn up a better set of numbers. The politicians are trying their best to ruin that.”

Spending by U.S. consumers climbed in November as Americans pushed aside the threat of higher taxes next year, buying gifts for the holidays and making up for shopping lost to superstorm Sandy. Demand for goods such as machinery and electronics also increased more than forecast. Payrolls rose in 30 states, and the unemployment rate dropped in 45, showing the job market improved across much of the U.S.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 1.17 percent during the week to close at 1,430.15 in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was up 0.55 percent, closing at 280.95.

Usmanov, Zuckerberg

The week’s biggest gainer was Oracle founder Larry Ellison, according to the Bloomberg ranking. The Redwood City, California-based company reported Wednesday fiscal second-quarter sales and profit that topped analysts’ estimates on growing demand for Internet-based software, which is now on track to bring in more than $1 billion in revenue this year. Ellison, who added $1.9 billion to his fortune, ranks 8th on the index with a net worth of $39.6 billion.

Alisher Usmanov, Russia’s richest man, said he plans to boost his stake next year in VKontakte, the country’s largest social network, adding to his investments in competitors to Facebook Inc. Usmanov, who is worth $18.7 billion, controls a $1.8 billion stake in Facebook.

The billionaire is in talks with VKontakte shareholders, he told state television Rossiya 24 yesterday, and is prepared to buy the company’s stock at a reasonable price. Usmanov’s Group Ltd., which controls Russian social networks Odnoklassniki and My World, owns a stake of almost 40 percent in VKontakte.

Arnault Immigration

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that he is donating almost $500 million in shares of the world’s largest social network to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The gift to the nonprofit group, which had $2 billion in assets in 2011, is to “lay a foundation for new projects,” Zuckerberg said yesterday in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

The executive and his wife, Priscilla, signed a pledge two years ago committing the majority of their earnings to charity. He is worth $12.1 billion.

Bernard Arnault’s effort to become a Belgian citizen may have hit a snag after the country’s immigration office deemed he hasn’t lived in the country long enough. The LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA chief executive officer hasn’t had his primary residence in Belgium for the requisite three years, the immigration affairs service wrote three weeks ago to the parliamentary committee handling such requests, Belgian newspaper De Morgen said on Thursday.

The 63-year-old said in September that he applied to become a Belgian national this year for “personal” reasons. Arnault, the world’s 9th richest person, has a net worth of $29 billion, up 39.7 percent this year.

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. The valuations are listed in U.S. dollars.

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