The world’s richest people added US$1 trillion to their wealth in 2017, more than four times last year’s gain, as stock markets reached record highs, Bloomberg reports.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest people, rose 23 percent this year, compared with an almost 20 percent rise for both the MSCI World Index and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Jeff Bezos, founder of online shopping giant Amazon.com Inc., saw his wealth increase by US$34.2 billion, the biggest gain this year, replacing Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates as the world’s richest person in October, the report said.
Bezos, whose net worth topped US$100 billion at the end of November, now has a net worth of US$99.6 billion compared with US$91.3 billion for Gates.
George Soros dropped to 195th place on the Bloomberg ranking with a net worth of US$8 billion. He has been giving away substantial portions of his fortune to charity.
As of Dec. 26, the 500 billionaires on the Bloomberg list controlled US$5.3 trillion, up from US$4.4 trillion a year earlier.
“It’s part of the second-most robust and second-longest bull market in history,” the report quoted Mike Ryan, chief investment officer for the Americas at UBS Wealth Management, as saying. “Of all the guidance we gave people over the course of this year, the most important advice was staying invested.”
Meanwhile, the 38 Chinese billionaires on the Bloomberg index saw their fortunes increase 65 percent or by US$177 billion this year.
Xu Jiayin (Hui Ka-yan), chairman of developer China Evergrande Group, added US$25.9 billion to his wealth this year. That’s a 350 percent jump from last year, and the second-biggest US dollar gain on the index, after Bezos, the report said.
Ma Huateng (Pony Ma), chairman of internet giant Tencent Holdings, became Asia’s second-richest person when his fortune nearly doubled to US$41 billion, Bloomberg said.
On the whole, Asian billionaires surpassed the number of their counterparts in the United States for the first time, according to a UBS Group AG and PricewaterhouseCoopers report.
Still, the US has the largest presence on the index, with 159 billionaires adding US$315 billion, an 18 percent gain, to their fortunes, Bloomberg said.
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