Spain’s Richest Woman Emerges With $5 Billion Zara Stake

The daughter of Inditex SA co-founder Amancio Ortega became Spain’s richest woman after inheriting her mother’s stake in the world's largest clothing retailer.

Sandra Ortega Mera received more than 90 percent of Rosalia Mera’s fortune, including all of holding company Rosp Corunna Participaciones Empresariales SL, after Mera died in August, according to a person with knowledge of the inheritance who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The two had controlled the entity together prior to Mera’s death in August.

Rosp Corunna controls 5.1 percent of Arteixo, Spain-based Inditex. Ortega Mera, 45, has a net worth of $7.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and is the 182nd richest person in the world. She is the company’s second-largest shareholder.

“Sandra Ortega’s inheritance of Rosp Corunna elevates her into the top wealth sphere in Spain,” said Nicholas Moody, the London-based editor at Campden Wealth, a networking community for the world’s wealthiest family businesses. “The interesting thing to watch will be whether her involvement with Inditex develops and if she takes a more active part in the business.”

The inheritance makes Ortega Mera the youngest female European billionaire on Bloomberg’s ranking. Her father is the third-richest person on Earth. He holds a 59 percent stake in Inditex and has a net worth of $65.9 billion.

Zara, Bershka

Inditex, whose brands include Zara, Pull & Bear and Bershka, operates more than 6,000 stores worldwide. Its net income has risen at least 10 percent in each of the last three years, leading to a doubling of its share price, and increasing the value of Rosp Corunna’s stake to $5.2 billion.

“Inditex is an exceptional apparel retailer,” London-based Exane BNP Paribas analyst Ben Spruntulis wrote in a September 2013 note. “High quality, proven formats, consistency of execution, structural global growth, a sustainable operating model and high barriers to entry.”

While Mera was alive, she controlled 86 percent of the A Coruna, Spain-based Rosp Corunna, with her daughter holding the remainder. Ortega Mera was first revealed as a billionaire in October 2012, when her 14 percent stake in the holding company was confirmed for the first time.

Rosp Corunna also controls a five percent stake in publicly traded Spanish pharmaceutical company, Zeltia SA, valued at $39 million, as well as private equity investments which are valued at $100 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Jose Leyte, a spokesman for Ortega Mera, declined to comment on the family’s net worth.

The billionaire’s younger brother, Marcos, received about 8 percent of his mother’s estate, with the balance going to his sister. Ortega Mera also serves as vice president of Fundacion Paideia Galiza, a foundation she started with her mother that helps vulnerable members of society, including the disabled, find jobs and develop greater autonomy.

Rosalia Mera co-founded Inditex with Amancio Ortega in 1963, opening the first Zara store 12 years later. They divorced in 1997, four years before Inditex’s initial public offering. She died from a brain hemorrhage on Aug. 14 while vacationing with her daughter on the island of Menorca.

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