Be­zos be­comes world’s rich­est per­son, then loses ti­tle

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - NICK WING­FIELD

SEAT­TLE — Jeff Be­zos on Thurs­day took some­thing away from a bil­lion­aire neigh­bour in the Seat­tle area, Bill Gates — the man­tle of world’s rich­est per­son.

A 1 per cent pop in the shares of Ama­zon.com — the in­ter­net com­pany Be­zos founded, which ac­counts for the vast ma­jor­ity of his wealth — was enough to briefly bump him over the wealth of Gates, the phi­lan­thropist and Mi­crosoft co-founder, ac­cord­ing to a real-time list of bil­lion­aires by Forbes.com, which has tal­lied the for­tunes of the uber-rich for decades.

Forbes es­ti­mated the wealth of Be­zos, Ama­zon’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, at $90.6 bil­lion, com­pared with $90 bil­lion for Gates. But when Ama­zon’s stock price fell later in the day, Gates re­claimed the ti­tle as world’s rich­est per­son.

Be­zos has added tens of bil­lions of dol­lars in wealth — at least on pa­per — over the last year as Ama­zon shares surged more than 40 per cent dur­ing that pe­riod. They traded at about $1,063 on Thurs­day, be­fore the re­lease of the com­pany’s lat­est earn­ings re­port.

Ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing with se­cu­ri­ties reg­u­la­tors in April, Be­zos holds nearly 81 mil­lion shares of Ama­zon — al­most 17 per cent of the com­pany.

Forbes also es­ti­mates the value of his other in­vest­ments — in­clud­ing his own­er­ship of The Wash­ing­ton Post and the rocket com­pany Blue Ori­gin — and cash from the sale of se­cu­ri­ties as part of its wealth cal­cu­la­tions. Be­zos has said he sells about $1 bil­lion a year worth of Ama­zon stock to fi­nance Blue Ori­gin.

Gates has been at the top of the Forbes list of bil­lion­aires for 18 out of the last 23 years.

Most of Gates’ wealth orig­i­nates from Mi­crosoft, which has seen its stock rise to new highs lately. A Mi­crosoft fil­ing from last Oc­to­ber said he held nearly 191 mil­lion shares of Mi­crosoft which are cur­rently worth about $14.1 bil­lion.

But Gates has spent years di­ver­si­fy­ing his in­vest­ments. Kerry Dolan of Forbes said the pub­li­ca­tion also con­sid­ers ex­ten­sive as­sets Gates holds through his Cas­cade In­vest­ments.

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