World’s Richest Gain $14 Billion as Bezos Fortune Falters

The 100 wealthiest people on the planet added $14 billion to their collective net worth this week as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index delivered its strongest start to a year since 1997.

One of the week’s biggest winners was Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Thailand’s richest man won control of Fraser & Neave Ltd. Wednesday after his S$13.8 billion ($11.2 billion) offer for the 130-year-old property and beverage company gained the backing of a majority of shareholders. He has an $11.2 billion fortune, up $1.6 billion for the week.

“U.S. equities remain the default asset class as investors continue to rotate out of others that appeared fully or over-valued,” said Stephen Pendergast, first vice president and investment officer at Wells Fargo Advisors, in a phone interview from his office in Danbury, Connecticut. “Additionally, the euro has been surprisingly strong, which has accelerated cross border money flows into the U.S.”

U.S. stocks surged yesterday as growth in American payrolls was enough to ease concern about the economy without stoking speculation the Federal Reserve will hasten the end of stimulus. Silver and copper led gains in commodities and the yen weakened, while Treasuries erased early gains.

The S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent during the week to close at 1513.17 in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.5 percent, closing at 288.2.

Bezos, Slim

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Inc., dropped $1.7 billion after the world’s largest online retailer fell 6.7 percent. The Seattle-based company’s fourth-quarter sales climbed 22 percent to $21.3 billion, the company said Tuesday in a statement. Bezos has a $24.8 billion fortune and is the 22nd-richest person in the world. He is up $1.2 billion year-to-date.

Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, 73, remains the richest person in the world, with a fortune of $79.4 billion, up $1.1 billion for the week. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, 57, is second with a net worth of $66.2 billion. The billionaire released his annual letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday.

Europe’s richest man, Amancio Ortega, the 76-year-old founder of Inditex SA, the world’s biggest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara clothing chain, is No. 3 on the index with a net worth of $57.4 billion, $4.9 billion ahead of Warren Buffett, 82.

Dell Buyout

Michael Dell, 47, is seeking majority control of Dell Inc. in a buyout that would combine his 15.7 percent stake in the company with as much as $1 billion of his personal funds, said people familiar with the matter. The billionaire may contribute equity financing of $500 million to $1 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Dell is the 60th-richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg ranking. He has a fortune valued at $14.5 billion.

Jorge Paulo Lemann, 73, Brazil’s richest man, lost $62 million, according to the Bloomberg ranking. Shares of his AB InBev plunged Thursday after the Justice Department filed a complaint today in federal court in Washington to block AB InBev from acquiring Grupo Modelo SAB. The government argued the transaction violates antitrust law because it would eliminate the “substantial head-to-head competition” between AB InBev and Modelo and “diminish ABI’s incentive to innovate.”

Eike Batista, 56, dropped $872 million during the week as his OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA fell to a four-year low Thursday after a dry hole stoked concerns about the outlook for production. Brazil’s third-richest person has a net worth of $11.9 billion, down 4.4 percent for the 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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