Money talks: Richest man breaks the $100bn barrier
Amazon’s founder is the world’s richest, at $124bn, according to Forbes, but others are not too far behind
Amazon’s ever-growing share price has catapulted its founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos — who owns 16% of the firm’s shares — to the top of the Forbes rich list.
Bezos’s net worth has now surpassed the $100bn mark, making him the only centi-billionaire on the ultra-wealthy list. Forbes reports his real-time net worth to be more than $124bn.Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who was the richest person in the world between 1995 and 2017, before Bezos snatched the title, has a net worth of around $91bn, and rising.
With the net worth of some of the world’s wealthiest men close to crossing the $100bn threshold, could we be entering an era of centi-billionaires?
Using Bloomberg data going back to 2016, the projections suggest that the top four wealthiest people in the world (after Bezos who has already passed the $100bn benchmark) will all become centi-billionaires by May 2022, with Bill Gates reaching this milestone in just nine months’ time.
While the forecasts are by no means conclusive — particularly as much of the wealth at the top comes from the stock market which constantly fluctuates — they give a rough idea of when the upper echelons of the world’s rich list will enter the centi-billionaire league table.
Alongside Bezos and Gates, veteran investor Warren Buffett, French businessman Bernard Arnault and Inditex founder Amancio Ortega make up the five wealthiest people in the world, with estimated real-time net worths of $87bn, $75bn and $73.6bn, respectively.Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — currently sitting in sixth place — often dips into the top five rankings when Facebook shares are performing well. Much of the 33-year-old’s net worth is tied up in Facebook shares, meaning it rises and falls with the company’s stock price.
Amancio Ortega, currently fifth on the billionaire rich list, typically earns more than $400m a year in dividends from his 60% stake in Inditex, the fashion group he founded that owns brands including Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka and Massimo Dutti.
With Zara’s rampant growth showing no signs of abating, after Inditex reported a 14% jump in sales to 5.6bn in the first quarter of 2017, Ortega’s net worth is likely to continue to grow in unison.While Gates owns just 1.3% of Microsoft stock, having donated a significant chunk to charity, he continues to make money from Cascade Investments, an asset management group that invests his personal wealth.
According to the Financial Times, the investment firm, which is managed by Michael Larson, has grown Gates’ wealth from about $5bn 22 years ago to around $90bn, half of which he has donated.
Warren Buffett is chairman and largest shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, which over the past 52 years has recorded an average annual return of 20.8%, while Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, holds the bulk of his fortune in Christian Dior stock, through which he holds a controlling interest in LVMH.
A report by Capgemini last year revealed that the number of high-net-worth individuals — those whose assets are worth at least $1m excluding their primary residence — increased by 7.5% in 2016 to a record global high of 16.5 million people.
Booming global stock markets has catapulted an extra 1.15 million people into the high net-worth individual (HNWI) bracket and, while the number of wealthy individuals in the world is on the up, their personal wealth is also rocketing — by 8.2% in 2016, compared to 4% in 2015.
It means that the world’s wealthiest people collectively hold a $63.5-trillion fortune, and are on track to exceed $100-trillion by 2025, Capgemini said.