Bernard, Bizos top list of bulging wallets

Henry

If you count your savings in billions, it is not strange to lose the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country like Cambodia in the blink of an eye. Feel free to ask the South African-born billionaire Elon Musk, whose piggy bank has shrunk by $38.1 billion to “just” $191 billion in the past year.

Musk’s flatter wallet is partly due to a legal ruling earlier this year in the US state of Delaware, which stripped the Tesla boss of a 2018 stock compensation package of nearly $50 billion. This, together with the fact that Tesla’s share price has already fallen by more than 24% this year, has allowed the Frenchman Bernard Arnault to take the top podium step on Bloomberg’s billionaire index with $200 billion in the bank. Musk was in third place on Friday morning, March 8.

Arnault controls the LVMH business empire (also known as Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) of 75 fashion and beauty brands such as Dior. LVMH bought American jeweler Tiffany & Co. acquired in 2021 for $15.8 billion, believed to be the largest luxury brand acquisition ever.

Jeff Bezos, who started the e-commerce giant Amazon in his garage in 1994 and is currently the second richest man on earth, blows Arnault’s neck at $199 billion. Bezos’ wealth increased by $22.6 billion in the past year. Meta’s 39-year-old Mark Zuckerberg is fourth on Bloomberg’s index, with $184 billion in the bank, while the grayer and wiser Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates sits in fifth place with $149 billion in his pocket.

South Africans farm much lower on this list, with the top position held by Johann Rupert and family. The Ruperts, who are in 145th place, have an estimated wealth of $14 billion, which is still more than the GDP of countries such as Malawi, Mauritius and Namibia. Nicky Oppenheimer, for his part – with $10.4 billion in the bank – is in 229th position.

92-year-old Nathan Kirsh, a native of Swaziland who owes his fortune mainly to US-based Jetro Holdings – which owns the restaurant supply stores Jetro Cash and Carry and Restaurant Depot – is in 314th place with a bank balance of $8.38 billion. Kirsh reportedly owns one of London’s tallest skyscrapers, Tower 42, which houses the offices of more than 50 international companies.

Although the top positions of the three richest people regularly change as share prices fluctuate, the net worth of the five richest people on earth has shot up by more than 114% since 2020, according to Oxfam’s annual inequality report. According to Oxfam, it will take around 230 years to eradicate poverty, while within the next 10 years the world will have its first billionaire (trillionaire) can have.