Forbes list of The top five Billionaire gainers of 2019, who added nearly $112 billion to their fortunes.
The top five gainers of 2019 added nearly $112 billion to their fortunes. That is well more than double the jump in 2018, when the fortunes of the five biggest winners increased by just over $48 billion. Driving up these audacious gains were outperforming stocks, not just in the U.S., where equity markets hit record highs, but in other parts of the world as well.
This year’s biggest winner by a landslide is France’s Bernard Arnault, chairman of the luxury goods titan LVMH. The third-richest person on the planet, he is worth $40 billion more than a year ago and is now one of just three people with 12-figure fortunes. His massive gain is nearly $18 billion more than that of anyone else on earth in 2019. Coming in second is Facebook’s controversial chief Mark Zuckerberg, who was last year’s biggest loser. In a complete reversal of fortunes, he is $22.1 billion richer, after having lost $18.7 billion in the previous year.
Sometimes being the biggest loser is not such a bad thing. Indian tech magnate Azim Premji, who is chairman of the $8.4 billion (2018 revenue) IT company Wipro, announced in March that he had transferred more than 60% of his stake in Wipro to his foundation over the years. “To whom much has been given, much should be expected,” he told Forbes at the time.
To measure fortunes for this article, Forbes looked at the change in net worth of more than 2,200 billionaires between December 28, 2018 and December 13, 2019. We calculated the biggest winners and losers in absolute dollar terms and only took into consideration billionaires with investments in publicly traded companies.
winners of the year
1. Benard Arnault
Added wealth $40billion
Net worth: $107.7 billion
No one had a better year than Bernard Arnault, chief executive of French luxury conglomerate LVMH, which encompasses more than 70 brands including Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Dior, and Fendi. LVMH’s stock price rose about 54% in 2019, nearly tripling in less than four years. In November, LVMH announced its largest acquisition ever, agreeing to buy the 182-year-old iconic jeweler Tiffany & Co for $16.2 billion. The deal is expected to close in the middle of 2020. “What I have in mind every morning is that the desirability of a brand should be as strong in ten years,” he told Forbes in November. “It’s really the key to our success.”
2 Mark Zuckerberg
Added wealth $22.1 billion
Net worth: $72 billion
As the 2020 U.S. presidential elections loom large, Zuckerberg continues to attract critics, from presidential candidates to fellow billionaires such as Twitter chief Jack Dorsey, who, in a radical move, removed all political ads from his own platform in October. Yet Facebook managed to exceed analysts’ expectations with its quarterly results the same month. The company also launched a variety of new initiatives in 2019, including Facebook News and Facebook Dating. “Today is certainly a historical moment of social tension, and I view an important role of our company as defending free expression,” Zuckerberg said in an earnings call in November. Facebook’s stock price surged 48% in the past year.
3 Amancio Ortega
Added wealth 17.3 billion
Net worth: $74.9 billion
After a less-than-stellar 2018, the share price of Amancio Ortega’s Inditex, best known for its popular clothing retailer Zara, increased nearly 34% this year. In an interim report in November, the company announced that it had been cutting down operating expenses while expanding Zara’s global presence, adding online stores in South Africa, Colombia, the Philippines and Ukraine. Ortega has about a 60% stake in Inditex, whose brands also include Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear and Bershka.
4 Steve Ballmer
Added wealth $16.3 billion
Net worth: $56.3 billion
Former CEO of Microsoft, Ballmer helped the $1.18 trillion (market capitalization) technology company through tumultuous times from 2000 to 2014. In 2019, Microsoft earnings continued to rise thanks to its presence in commercial cloud services. The firm also announced a buyback plan in September of up to $40 billion in stock and raised its quarterly dividend by 11%, boosting its share price significantly.
5 Mukesh Ambani
Added wealth $16.1 billion
Net worth: $61.4 billion
For the third year in a row, Ambani lands on our list of top gainers. His Reliance Industries— which has stakes in oil, gas, telecom, and retail—had a strong 2019, and is on track to being debt-free by March 31, 2020. Reliance agreed in August to sell a 20% stake in its petrochemicals and oil refining business to Saudi Aramco for $15 billion. It also announced a fuel retailing joint venture with BP in December, which will launch up to 5,500 gas stations across India branded as Jio-BP. Ambani chairs and runs the $90.1 billion (2019 revenue) Reliance Industries, which was founded by his late father as a small textile manufacturer half a century ago.