Nearly six years after dropping behind Warren Buffett and Carlos Slim as the world’s richest man, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has regained the top spot on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, thanks to a surge in Microsoft share price, which took his estimated fortune to $72.7 billion.
Gates, who retired from day-to-day operations at his company in 2008 to focus on philanthropy work, knocked off Mexican telecommunications mogul Slim to reclaim the crown – beating Slim’s net worth by more than $550 million, Bloomberg reports.
Gates was also helped by the fact that Slim’s net-worth had decreased by more than $3 billion this year, after new Mexican legislature last month caused Slim’s America Movil, the largest mobile-phone operator in the Americas, see a share price drop by nearly 14 percent.
The Mexican bill, backed by President Enrique Pena Nieto and is now before state legislatures, would allow regulators to break up phone companies with more than 50 percent of the market or force them to share their networks. America Movil has 70 percent of Mexico’s mobile-phone subscribers and 80 percent of the country’s landlines.
Meanwhile, Microsoft shares have surged by 28 percent this year, on the back of strong U.S. markets and confidence in their online software business.
Berkshire chairman Warren Buffett was named in third place on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, with a net worth of $59.7 billion. Spaniard Amancio Ortega – owner of Inditex, the world's largest clothing retailer – and IKEA magnate Ingvar Kamprad complete the top five.
While Gates has a $72.7 billion fortune, he has donated more than $28 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which works on the eradication of polio, malaria, and other dangerous diseases. In the last year, Gates has also worked on projects to create the “next generation condom” and to reinvent the toilet for developing countries.
Less than a quarter of Gate’s fortune is now held in Microsoft, while he also holds a majority share in Cascade Investment LLC, a holding entity through which he owns stakes in more than a dozen publicly traded companies and several closely held operations, including Four Seasons hotels and Corbis Corp.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index measures the wealth of the world’s richest people based on market and economic changes. The figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. New York time and can be found on its website.