Murdoch to Lose Wife No. 3 as Richest Plunge $16 Billion

The world’s 200 wealthiest people lost $16 billion this week as consumer confidence in June eased from a six-year high and the International Monetary Fund cut its 2014 American growth forecast, warning that tapering of Federal Reserve stimulus may be risky if not handled properly.

The IMF lowered its prediction for 2014 U.S. growth to 2.7 percent from 3 percent and said “effective communication” on the Fed’s exit strategy and careful calibration are needed to avoid volatility in interest rates. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 1.01 percent during the week to close at 1,626.73 in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 1.45 percent, closing at 291.13.

Among the week’s losers was Rupert Murdoch, whose fortune sank $290 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The 82-year-old billionaire chairman of News Corp. filed for divorce from his third wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, who famously defended him from a pie-hurling assailant.

The divorce filing said the “relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably,” said Steven Rubenstein, a spokesman for Murdoch with Rubenstein Communications, in a telephone interview.

The couple has a prenuptial agreement, said a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about it.

“If he doesn’t have a prenup, he would have to see a psychiatrist and not a lawyer,” said Raoul Felder, divorce attorney whose clients have included former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the ex-spouses of boxer Mike Tyson and actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Murdoch ranks 78th on the list with a $12.2 billion fortune.

Gates, Slim

Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, 57, remains the richest person in the world with a net worth of $71.4 billion.

The Redmond, Washington-based company is teaming with Best Buy Co. to promote machines with its latest Windows 8 operating system as the software maker and electronics retailer try to combat the worst personal computer slump on record.

Microsoft is setting up its own Windows stores inside 500 Best Buy outlets in the U.S. and 100 in Canada, the companies said in a statement today. Other Microsoft products including the Windows Phone, Office software and Xbox gaming console will also be featured as part of the alliance.

Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu, 73, is $4.8 billion behind Gates. The telecommunications tycoon’s fortune has plunged $8.7 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 percent.

Tarnished Gold

No. 3 on the Bloomberg ranking is Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman Warren Buffett. Shares of the Omaha, Nebraska-based company are up 28 percent this year, elevating the 82-year-old’s fortune to $61 billion.

Billionaire John Paulson, 57, the hedge-fund manager trying to recover from losses related to bullion this year, posted a 13 percent decline in his Gold Fund last month, according to a letter to investors.

The drop brings losses in the strategy to 54 percent since the start of the year, the firm said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. The Gold Fund is the smallest strategy of the $19 billion money manager, with about $360 million, or 2 percent of assets, most of it Paulson’s own money.

Son, Ergen

The firm said it has no intention of closing down the Gold Fund and recommended investors stay invested as valuations provide a “significant upside.” Paulson & Co. last week told clients it would start reporting returns for the Gold Fund and the gold share classes of other strategies separately to avoid taking away attention from positive performance in other strategies, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Paulson ranks 112th on the Bloomberg tanking with a $9.6 billion fortune.

In the battle of billionaires trying to enter the U.S. wireless market, Dish Network Corp.’s Charlie Ergen, 60, has won a round against SoftBank Corp.’s Masayoshi Son.

Clearwire Corp.’s board endorsed Dish’s $4.40-a-share bid for the company this week, spurning an offer by its majority owner Sprint Nextel Corp. The move deals a setback to Tokyo-based SoftBank, which sees a Sprint-Clearwire combination as the centerpiece of its U.S. expansion plan. SoftBank is vying with Dish to acquire Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier.

Hidden Billionaire

Sprint separately agreed this week to a $21.6 billion takeover by SoftBank, rejecting a higher offer by Dish that it said was not “actionable.” If Dish is able to acquire the portion of Clearwire that Sprint doesn’t own, it could force the carrier to reconsider whether SoftBank is its best suitor, said Walt Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG LLC.

Son said he sees T-Mobile US Inc. as a “Plan B” acquisition target if he fails to purchase Sprint Nextel Corp.

“I plan to go with Plan A if possible,” Son told a Bloomberg reporter in Tokyo yesterday, referring to the company’s October agreement to buy Sprint. SoftBank increased his bid for Sprint to $21.6 billion this week, aiming to ward off a counteroffer from Dish Network Corp. Son said he doesn’t have any concerns regarding SoftBank’s ability to finance the deal.

A fifth billionaire from the German family behind Coty Inc. emerged this week as the perfume maker’s shares debuted on the New York Stock Exchange.

Beyonce Perfume

Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli, 56, a U.S. citizen who resides in Hanover, New Hampshire, sold her stake in Joh. A. Benckiser, the Reimann family’s closely held investment company, in 2003 for almost $1 billion, according to a person familiar with the terms of the deal who asked not to be identified because the transaction was private. She has a fortune valued at $1.2 billion, according to the ranking.

Coty, maker of perfumes endorsed by Beyonce and Heidi Klum, raised about $1 billion in an initial public offering on Wednesday. JAB sold 43.6 million shares for $762 million at the offering, according to a regulatory filing. The Reimann family owns about 96 percent of JAB, and has a combined net worth of more than $19 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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