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Spain's Ortega now world's 3rd richest man

Source: Bloomberg - Tue 7th Aug 2012
Spain's Ortega now world's 3rd richest man

Amancio Ortega, the septuagenarian Spaniard who founded retailer Inditex, has bumped Warren Buffett from his perch as the world’s 3rd richest person.

The 76-year-old tycoon’s fortune rose €1.3 billion to €37.5 billion yesterday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as shares of Inditex gained 3.8% to close at a record. That places the owner of the Zara clothing chain above the Berkshire Hathaway Inc chairman, who has a net worth of €36.7 billion and had ranked No. 3 on the index since its inception March 5.

Ortega’s wealth has surged 32% - €9.2 billion - this year amid a market rout in his native Spain, where policy makers are resisting pressure to formally request aid from the ECB. Inditex boosted profit for 12 straight quarters by adding stores in emerging markets such as China while reducing its dependence on its home country, where unemployment hovers above 20%.

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“Buffett’s holdings have done well recently, but not all of them,” said Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, who helps manage €13.7 billion at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. Ortega “has a more concentrated holding, and that implies more risk. You may have these fits and starts between them going forward.”

Raul Estradera, a spokesman for Inditex, declined to comment. Buffett, 81, didn’t return an e-mail message left with Carrie Sova, an assistant.

Inditex shares rose in Madrid yesterday, joining a rally of European stocks, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government backed the ECB’s plan to buy bonds from debt-racked countries such as Spain. Berkshire Hathaway shares fell 0.5% in New York after increasing its cash hoard to the highest level in a year as Buffett pared bets on consumer- products stocks. On Aug. 3, the company posted a second-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

Ortega is €22.2 billion behind Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim, the world’s richest person. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ranks No. 2 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a €51 billion fortune.

The Spaniard became Europe’s richest man on June 13, when he passed Sweden’s Ingvar Kamprad, owner of retailer IKEA. Kamprad, founder of the world’s largest furniture seller, is worth €29.81 billion.

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