Money Money Money Money

Matthew G. Miller, Peter Newcomb;  January 2, 2013

The richest people worldwide got even richer in 2012, adding $241 billion to their collective net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 100 wealthiest individuals. Of the 100 people who appeared on the final ranking of 2012, only 16 registered a net loss for the 12-month period.

Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man, gained $8.1 billion as shares of luxury giant LVMH and its publicly traded holding company Christian Dior SA soared. In May, the LVMH chairman’s net worth was lowered $15 billion on the index because of the way his ownership stake in the world’s largest luxury-goods company is structured. The 63-year-old controls 46.5 percent of LVMH’s share capital, according to the 2011 annual report of the Paris-based maker of Louis Vuitton handbags and Moet & Chandon champagne. That figure includes 5.6 percent of LVMH shares held by Arnault, and a 40.9 percent stake of the company owned by Christian Dior.

Arnault, who is applying for Belgian citizenship for“personal” reasons, owns 70.4 percent of Christian Dior, according to French regulatory filings. The remaining 29.6 percent of Dior is held by outside investors. While he controls all the voting power of Dior’s stake in LVMH, his economic interest is less than the figure reported in the LVMH annual report. His net worth is valued at $28.8 billion.

Spain’s Amancio Ortega, who founded retailer Inditex SA, was the year’s biggest gainer. The 76-year-old tycoon’s fortune increased $22.2 billion to $57.5 billion, according to the index, as shares of Inditex, operator of the Zara clothing chain, rose 66.7 percent.

Sheldon Adelson, gambling’s richest man, gained $2.8 billion. The 79-year-old chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp. , which operates casinos in Macau, Singapore and the U.S., received $1.2 billion in December when the company paid a special dividend of $2.75 per share. More than half of the company’s revenue comes from Macau.

Lui Che Woo, the founder of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd., was the biggest winner on the index by percentage gain. His fortune more than doubled to $11.9 billion. The company plans to invest as much as HK$50 billion ($6.5 billion) to expand a Macau resort as the casino operator seeks to draw more Chinese tourists in the world’s largest gambling hub.

Brazil’s Eike Batista, 56, was the year’s biggest loser by dollars, falling $10.1 billion. The commodities maven, who vowed a year ago that he’d become the world’s wealthiest man by 2015, sold a 5.63 percent stake in his EBX Group Co. in March to Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co. Batista now ranks 75th in the world with a $12.4 billion net worth. On March 27, he was worth $34.5 billion and ranked 8th on the Bloomberg index.

Zong Qinghou, head of China’s third-largest beverage maker, became the country’s richest man in September after disclosing his stake in closely held Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co. was more than double previous estimates. The 67-year-old soda and juice tycoon owns more than 80 percent of Wahaha, the company’s spokesman Shan Qining said. Zong’s net worth is $15.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg ranking. He is $8.4 billion wealthier than Robin Li, founder of Baidu Inc. , China’s biggest search engine operator.

Larry Ellison, Founder of Oracle Corp rose $6.4 billion in 2012 as shares of the world’s largest database company jumped 31.7 percent. Ellison, 68, who has more than tripled the amount of Oracle stock he has pledged against lines of credit in the last year, agreed to buy 98 percent of Hawaii’s Lanai island. The bulk of Ellison’s fortune comes from his 23.5 percent stake in Oracle. He also has interests in software makers NetSuite Inc. and LeapFrog Enterprises Inc., as well as property holdings, including estates in California and Newport, Rhode Island.

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