World’s Wealthies Lose $18 Billion as Gates Chases Slim

The 100 wealthiest people on the planet dropped $17.9 billion from their collective net worth this week after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell short of hitting an all-time high.

Carlos Slim, the world’s richest person, lost $5 billion during the week, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Mexican lawmakers announced legislation Monday that threatens to rein in the country’s telecommunications monopolies, raising the possibility of a breakup for Slim’s America Movil SAB.

The stock plunged to its lowest price in almost four years. The 73-year-old is worth $67.8 billion -- $184 million ahead of Bill Gates. The wealth gap between the billionaires is the closest it’s been since the index debuted in March 2012.

“It looked like we were oh-so-close. We didn’t make it and gave up some ground,” said Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, who helps manage $17 billion at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. “It’s a given that we’re going to get a new high on the S&P. The question is: What happens after that?”

The S&P 500 climbed Thursday to within two points of its record closing level of 1,565.15, set in October 2007, closing yesterday at 1560.70, up 0.6 percent for the week. The index has more than doubled from its bottom in 2009, fueled by corporate earnings that topped estimates and monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve. The Dow Jones Industrial Average set an all-time high for the eighth day in a row Thursday.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.6 percent during the week, closing at 297.44.

Gates, Icahn

Gates, the 57-year-old Microsoft Corp. co-founder, is the world’s second-richest person with $67.6 billion. Europe’s richest man, Amancio Ortega, the 76-year-old founder of Inditex SA, the world’s largest clothing retailer and owner of the Zara clothing chain, is No. 3 on the index with a net worth of $55.7 billion, $900 million ahead of Warren Buffett, 82.

Billionaire Carl Icahn was down $290 million for the week. The 77-year-old is reviewing Dell Inc.’s books as he pushes alternatives to a proposed $24.4 billion leveraged buyout of the personal computer maker that faces mounting resistance from investors.

Icahn has amassed a stake in Dell and urged the company Monday to pay a special dividend of $9 a share. Dell’s board is seeking bids higher than the $13.65 a share offer by Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell and Silver Lake Management LLC to take the company private. Icahn is worth $19.8 billion.

Paulson’s Staying

John Paulson, the 57-year-old billionaire hedge-fund manager who was considering a move to Puerto Rico, said he won’t set up a permanent residence on the island.

“In light of the media attention surrounding a relocation to Puerto Rico, he has no plans to move to Puerto Rico,” said Paulson & Co., John Paulson’s hedge fund, in a statement released yesterday. “While Mr. Paulson has considered real estate investments and has vacationed on the island, he has no plans to establish a permanent residence there.”

Bloomberg News reported Monday that Paulson, a lifelong New Yorker, had been exploring a move to Puerto Rico, where a new law would eliminate taxes on gains from the money he has invested in his own hedge funds. Paulson has a $11.2 billion fortune.

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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