THE CHANGING FORTUNES OF THE WORLD’S RICHEST
Though mounting coronavirus fears halted the rallying stock market this week, some of the world’s wealthiest people still got much richer. In the week spanning Thursday, June 18 through Thursday, June 25—as the S&P 500 remained virtually flat—the fortunes of 10 billionaires soared by $23 billion, as some stocks continue to surge despite widespread economic uncertainty.
The biggest gainer over the past week is no stranger to the title. The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, is more than $50 billion richer than he was in February—before coronavirus-fueled uncertainty tanked stocks globally. This week alone, Bezos’ net worth is up $5.6 billion, ending Thursday at $164.5 billion. Shares of Amazon continued their months-long tear this week, rising by 4% and hitting another all-time high on Tuesday, after the firm announced a $2 billion venture capital fund, dubbed the Climate Pledge Fund, to invest in companies that are helping to reduce carbon emissions. Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie has also been among the biggest gainers throughout the pandemic, thanks to her roughly 4% stake in Amazon. Her fortune, now $53.9 billion, jumped by $2 billion this week, making her the world’s second-richest woman—surpassing Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, to take the number 2 spot behind L’Oreal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, who’s worth $62.3 billion.
Meanwhile, Ma Huateng, the chair of Shenzhen-based Internet monolith Tencent, gained $3.4 billion over the past week, boosting his fortune to $54.6 billion. He overtakes Jack Ma, the cofounder and former executive chair of Chinese ecommerce juggernaut Alibaba Group. Jack Ma’s net worth fell by $244 million this week, ending at $44.3 billion as Tencent surpassed Alibaba to become China’s most valuable public company, with a market cap of nearly $603 billion. Ma Huateng is one of four Chinese magnates among this week’s biggest gainers.
In percentage terms, the week’s biggest gainer is Russian investor Suleiman Kerimov, whose fortune jumped by $1.3 billion, or almost 9%, thanks to the 78% stake he and his family hold in Russia’s largest gold producer, Polyus. Though shares are still down from their April record high, Polyus stock is up 11% this week as it recovers from the aftermath of a bearish first-quarter earnings report released on June 1. The firm said it may need to lower its production targets for 2020 after employees out of a key business unit operating three mines in Siberia tested positive for Covid-19. Kerimov ended the week worth $16.7 billion.
Other top gainers include LVMH kingpin Bernard Arnault, whose fortune is up $1.7 billion to $104.1 billion but still lagging January highs, and tech titan Michael Dell. Shares of his Dell Technologies climbed more than 8% this week, hitting their highest levels since mid February, after reports that the firm could spin off its $50 billion stake in software company VMware. Dell ended the week $1.6 billion richer, worth $31.6 billion.