Business World

Wednesday 13 December 2017

The big hitters are taking a bath


Crayton Harrison

CARLOS Slim, the world's richest man, lost about $8bn this week. The Mexican billionaire's stock portfolio, measured in US dollars, has dropped about 11pc since July 29, and is valued at about $63bn, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with a 7.1pc slide in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Slim (71) has taken a hit as Mexico's benchmark IPC index dropped 7.4pc and the peso slid 2.5pc against the dollar on concerns that the flagging US economy will hurt demand for assets in its southern neighbour. The removal of three of Mr Slim's companies from the IPC index has made matters worse for the billionaire.

"He's been particularly hurt by those companies leaving the IPC," said Leon Cabrera, a trader at Mexico City-based Vanguardia Casa de Bolsa.

"It reflects the nervousness out there. It's part of being in the market."

Even measured in Mexican pesos, Mr Slim's holdings have dropped 9pc this week, a bigger decline than the broader Mexican market.

Mr Slim was named as the world's richest man for a second year in a row by Forbes magazine in March. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, second and third on the magazine's list, have had better weeks, at least for their biggest holdings.

Mr Gates's Microsoft Corp stake fell 5.3pc ($773m) this week, while Mr Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway stake slid 4.3pc ($391m).

Another major loser in the meltdown is John Paulson, the billionaire hedge fund manager, who is betting on an economic recovery by 2012.

He has lost 22pc this year in his biggest fund, according to an investor, as global stock markets slumped and the US economy showed signs of slowing.

Mr Paulson's Advantage Plus Fund, which uses strategies designed to profit from corporate events such as takeovers and bankruptcies, lost 4.6pc. The fund's gold-denominated share class has lost 10pc this year, after advancing 1.5pc in July.

Mr Paulson (55), whose New York-based firm Paulson & Co manages $35bn, has trimmed investments in banks including Bank of America and Citigroup as shares of those companies fell this year.

US data showed manufacturing grew at the weakest pace in two years, spending unexpectedly fell and the services industries grew at the slowest pace since February 2010. The hedge fund industry has gained 4.4pc this year after rising 0.1pc last month.

Irish Independent

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