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Gates Remains World’s Richest as Wealthy Gain $29 Billion

The world’s 200 wealthiest people added $29.4 billion to their collective net worth this week as slower-than-forecast growth in jobs eased investor concern about cuts to Federal Reserve stimulus.

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, 57, remains the richest person in the world. Shares of the world’s largest software maker fell 6.7 percent this week after the company announced a $7.2 billion takeover of Nokia Oyj’s handset business. Gates’s fortune has risen $8.2 billion this year to $71 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“Investors are questioning the need to buy the device portion of Nokia and how that contributes to synergy with Microsoft’s existing business and exactly what the strategy is,” Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, who helps manage $17 billion at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama, said by phone. “Investors, they voted and they voted against it. It took the stock down pretty aggressively on the announcement.”

The Redmond, Washington-based company has lost more than $18 billion in market value since the purchase of Nokia’s mobile-phone assets was disclosed, erasing all of the gains that followed the announcement last month that Steve Ballmer, its chief executive officer, will retire within a year.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 1.4 percent during the week to close at 1655.17. The MSCI World Index gained 2 percent.

Slim, Buffett

Payrolls in the U.S. climbed less than projected in August and gains for the prior two months were revised down, pointing to an expansion that’s struggling to gain momentum. The addition of 169,000 workers last month trailed the 180,000 median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 96 economists. Unemployment fell to 7.3 percent, the lowest since December 2008, as workers left the labor force.

Ballmer’s fortune jumped more than $900 million after announcing his retirement from the world’s largest software maker Aug. 23. The 57-year-old, who is No. 48 on the Bloomberg ranking, is the company’s largest individual shareholder after Gates. He has a net worth of $15.6 billion.

Mexico’s Carlos Slim is $6.7 billion behind Gates. The 73-year-old telecommunications tycoon’s fortune has fallen $10.9 billion this year as his main holding, a 44 percent stake in America Movil SAB, the largest mobile-phone operator in the Americas, has fallen 14.5 percent.

No. 3 on the Bloomberg ranking is Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman Warren Buffett. Shares of the Omaha, Nebraska-based company are up 25 percent this year, elevating the 83-year-old’s fortune to $57.2 billion.

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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