The Star Early Edition

Markets wipe out billionair­es’ fortunes

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THE WORLD’S 400 richest people lost almost $194 billion (R3.1 trillion) last week as world stock markets began the year with a shudder on poor economic data in China and falling oil prices.

Forty-seven billionair­es lost $1bn or more during the worst week for US stocks since 2011, according to the Bloomberg Billionair­es index. The combined drop was almost seven times the $29bn lost in the first five trading days of last year.

The 400 people on the index had a combined $3.7 trillion at the end of the week, compared with more than $4 trillion a year ago.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, the best-performing billionair­e in 2015, lost the most, his fortune dropping $5.9bn as shares of the world’s largest online retailer fell more than 10 percent. Bezos is the world’s fourth-richest person with $53.7bn and more than doubled his net worth last year as investors cheered profits at Amazon.

The world’s richest person, Bill Gates, fell $4.5bn to $79.2bn, while Spain’s Amancio Ortega, the second-richest, dropped $3.4bn to $69.5bn.

The combined loss among the billionair­es represents a 4.9 percent dip in their total wealth, according to the index, a slightly better performanc­e than world equity markets so far this year. Global stocks tumbled 6.2 percent for the week, according to the MSCI ACWI index.

There were 11 billionair­es among the 400 whose fortunes rose this week, including the five heirs to Walmart Stores.

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