World’s Richest Lose $26 Billion as Walton Heirs Falter

The world’s 400 wealthiest people dropped $26.2 billion from their collective net worth this week as stocks slumped amid concern global growth is slowing.

No one lost more than the Walton family. The heirs to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton shed $6.9 billion from their combined holdings in the world’s biggest retailer after the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company cut its sales growth forecast and acknowledged the need to do a better job stocking shelves. Wal-Mart fell 5.4 percent this week.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has plummeted 6.2 percent from a record in September amid concerns that central banks are running out of tools to fuel growth in the global economy. European stocks fell for the most consecutive days since 2003, and yields on U.S. 10-year Treasuries slid to the lowest level since June 2013. The decline in equity markets was exacerbated by war in the Middle East, street protests in Hong Kong and the spread of Ebola. The S&P 500 recovered 1.3 percent yesterday.

“No one rings a bell at the bottom, but the stress was so high that we had a snap back,” Donald Selkin, chief market strategist of National Securities Corp. in New York, which oversees about $3 billion, said in a phone interview. “Does that mean we’re out of the woods? Probably not, but I think the bottom will hold.”

U.S. and European stocks rallied today after the European Central Bank said it will start purchasing assets within the next few days and U.S. companies including General Electric Co. and Morgan Stanley reported better than expected earnings. Data yesterday showed jobless claims unexpectedly dropped last week to their lowest level in 14 years, while industrial production rose in September by the most in almost two years.

Ray-Bans, Casinos

Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder of Luxottica Group SpA, the world’s biggest eyewear company, dropped $1.3 billion after the Milan-based manufacturer of Ray-Bans lost its second chief executive officer in a little more than a month. The 79-year-old will take over as interim CEO of the company after Enrico Cavatorta resigned “following disagreements on the current governance structure,” according to an Oct. 13 statement.

The company fell 9.4 percent this week amid the turmoil. Del Vecchio owns a 65 percent stake in Luxottica. He’s the 42nd richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with a net worth of $16.6 billion.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, 81, defied the trend with a $1.4 billion gain. The casino company announced third-quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates. Adelson has a $30.5 billion fortune and is ranked No. 15 in the world.

Bill Gates remains the world’s richest person, even after his fortune fell $900 million. Microsoft Corp., the software maker Gates founded, rallied 2.1 percent yesterday after falling

2.3 percent earlier this week. Gates, 58, has a net worth of $80.9 billion.

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