Tuesday 20 August 2019

A Happy New Year as the world's richest end 2016 with €228bn more

Microsoft’s Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett. Photo: Bloomberg
Microsoft’s Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett. Photo: Bloomberg

Tom Metcalf and Jack Witzig

In a year when populist voters reshaped power and politics across Europe and the US, the world's wealthiest people are ending 2016 with $237bn (€228bn) more than they had at the start.

Triggered by disappointing economic data from China at the beginning, the UK's vote to leave the EU in the middle and the election of billionaire Donald Trump at the end, the biggest fortunes see-sawed through $4.8bn (€4.6bn) of daily net worth gains and losses during the year, rising 5.7pc to $4.4tn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

"In general, clients rode through the volatility," said Simon Smiles, chief investment officer for ultra-high-net-worth clients at UBS Wealth Management. "It ended up being a spectacular year for risk assets."

The gains were led by Warren Buffett, who added $11.8bn (€11.3bn) as his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway saw its airline and banking holdings soar after Mr Trump's victory.

Mr Buffett, who's pledged to give away most of his fortune to charity, donated Berkshire Hathaway stock valued at $2.6bn (€2.5bn) in July. The US investor reclaimed his spot as the world's second-richest person two days after Trump's victory ignited a year-end rally that pushed Mr Buffett's wealth up 19pc for the year to $74.1bn (€71.2bn).

"2016's been event-driven with global news driving prices rather than fundamentals," said Michael Cole, president of Ascent Private Capital Management, which has about $10bn of assets under administration.

"The belief that Trump is going to come in and deregulate big parts of the economy is driving the markets right now."

The individual gains were dominated by Americans, who had four of the five biggest increases on the index, including Microsoft's Bill Gates, the world's richest person with $91.5bn (€88bn). (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg

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