Wealth Wipeout Reshapes Ranks of World’s Richest People


MARCH 10, 2020

Mukesh Ambani, billionaire and chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Ltd., pauses during a panel session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017.

The wealth destruction caused by Monday’s market collapse is reshaping the ranks of the world’s richest people. 

Wildcatter Harold Hamm’s fortune plunged by almost half to $2.4 billion by the end of the day, a drop that bumped him from the 500-member Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Fellow oil magnate Jeff Hildebrand also fell off the ranking while Lukoil PJSC executives Leonid Fedun and Vagit Alekperov lost a combined $5 billion.

While energy moguls sustained the biggest shellacking in percentage terms, losses cascaded across industries and continents.

India’s Mukesh Ambani, who began the morning as Asia’s richest person, lost $5.8 billion, ceding the title to Jack Ma, who lost a comparatively modest $1.1 billion.

Frenchman Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury-goods giant LVMH, was Europe’s biggest decliner with a $4.4 billion drop. Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos shed $5.6 billion and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Warren Buffett lost $5.3 billion. Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison’s stake in the beleaguered cruise line operator slid almost 20% to $2 billion.

All told, the world’s 500 richest people lost a combined $238.5 billion on Monday. That’s the biggest daily plunge since the index began tracking the number in October 2016.

The losses include declines in publicly traded assets and estimated drops in the values of private companies — as is the case with Hildebrand’s Hilcorp Energy — that Bloomberg calculates using public peers. More than a half-trillion dollars has been erased from the combined fortunes of the top 500 so far in 2020.

“The near-term market focus is likely to remain on the virus’s spread across Europe and the U.S., and on stress in the financial markets,” Mark Haefele, UBS Group AG’s chief investment officer of global wealth management, said in a note to investors.

Spreading Virus

U.S. stocks ended the day down more than 7.5% in the worst day on Wall Street since the financial crisis as investors absorbed the prospect of an oil price war triggered by the breakup of the OPEC+ alliance and mounting concerns about how the spreading coronavirus will affect the global economy.

While 92% of the index entrants lost money on Monday, there were a few winners.

China’s Qin Yinglin added $536 million to his net worth as shares of his Muyuan Foodstuff Co. rose 4.3%. Li Xiting, chairman of Chinese medical equipment maker Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, gained $143 million, bringing his net worth to $13.7 billion.

Two billionaires took to Twitter to urge calm amid the panic. Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio advised to “look for the opportunities” and former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein stressed the fundamental strength of the U.S. economy.

“Fear” may drive further losses in markets, Blankfein said, “but expect quick recovery when health threat recedes.”

Courtesy/Source: Bloomberg