World’s Richest Gain $16 Billion as U.S. Stocks Hit Highs

The world’s 300 wealthiest people added $15.6 billion to their collective net worth this week as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at record highs amid optimism that the economic recovery will accelerate.

One of the week’s biggest gainers was Tesla Motors Inc. chairman Elon Musk, who added $1.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The Palo Alto, California-based company has soared 17.5 percent since May 20, driving up Musk’s fortune to $10.9 billion. Earnings for the electric carmaker are forecast to increase 46 percent this year, based on the average analyst estimate from a Bloomberg survey.

The comeback in technology shows that an appetite for risk is returning as investors overcome concern about the economy and stock valuations.

“Stocks continue to melt up,” Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, a senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management, said in a phone interview. “The real story is that there’s more money on the sidelines than there are opportunities in risk assets.”

The S&P 500 rose 1.38 percent for the week to close at 1962.87 in New York. The Dow gained 172 points to 16,947.08.

Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who control Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc., added $860 million each this week, raising their combined wealth to $107 billion. Koch subsidiary Georgia-Pacific LLC announced yesterday that it agreed to buy Dallas-based paper-goods supplier SPG Holdings LLC for an undisclosed sum. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

Fire Phone Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, 50, announced June 18 that his Seattle-based company would enter the smartphone market with a handset called Fire Phone. The device will be priced at $199 and connect to the Web retailer’s other services, including Amazon Prime. Bezos is ranked 21st on the Bloomberg ranking with a $29.7 billion fortune.

Bill Gates remains the world’s richest person with a net worth of $83 billion. The 58-year-old, who relinquished his title as Microsoft Corp.’s largest individual shareholder in May, acquired about 1.4 million shares of Republic Services Inc. The purchase comes after the Gates Foundation Asset Trust, the entity that manages the investments for the $40.2 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, liquidated its entire stake in G4S Plc, the world’s biggest security-services provider.

Gates is followed by Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim, 74, who has a net worth of $69.1 billion. Spain’s Amancio Ortega, who controls the Zara clothing chain, is the third-richest person on Earth with a $65.3 billion fortune, up $900 million.

New Billionaire

Carl Cook, CEO of Cook Group, joined the Bloomberg ranking this week. His parents, Bill and Gayle Cook, who co-founded the Bloomington, Indiana-based medical-device maker in 1963, passed ownership to their son to avoid estate taxes prior to Bill Cook’s death in 2011, according to a biography of the patriarch.

The company had revenue of about $2 billion in 2012, according to company spokesman Dave McCarty. The maker of needles, catheters and other medical products is valued at $6 billion, making Carl Cook the 250th richest person in the world.

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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