Gates back on top as world’s richest on Bloomberg billionaires’ index

Bill Gates is once again the world’s richest person.

The Microsoft co-founder recaptured the title from Mexican investor Carlos Slim, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as the software maker hit a five-year high.

It is the first time Gates, 57, has held the mantle since 2007.

His fortune is valued at $72.7bn (€56.6bn), up 16% year-to-date.

Slim’s America Movil SAB, the largest mobile phone operator in the Americas, has dropped 14% this year after Mexico’s congress passed a bill that could quash the billionaire’s market dominance. That’s helped erase more than $3bn from the 73-year-old tycoon’s net worth.

“When they’re talking about reform in a country that’s generally poor, and the guy shows up No 1 on the list — not a good thing,” said Greg Lesko, managing director at New York-based Deltec Asset Management, which oversees $750m and has an “underweight” position in Slim’s flagship company.

“He’s had a pretty good monopoly situation in Mexico, and the Mexican cellphone user has been paying more than he should. We applaud it for the country.”

Earlier this month, a group of kazoo-playing protesters confronted Slim when he appeared at an event at the New York Public Library, denouncing him for overcharging consumers to enrich himself. He denies the accusation.

The bill passed in Mexico last month, which is backed by president Enrique Pena Nieto and is now before state legislatures, would allow regulators to break up phone companies with more than 50% of the market or force them to share their networks.

America Movil has 70% of Mexico’s mobile phone subscribers and 80% of the country’s landlines.

Microsoft shares have surged 28% this year, buoyed by cost controls and sales of business and server software amid weak demand for personal computers running the new Windows 8 operating system.

Gates’s fortune has also benefited from a rally in stock holdings that include the Canadian National Railway Company and waste-collection company Republic Services.

Most of Gates’s fortune is held in Cascade Investment, a holding entity through which he owns stakes in more than a dozen publicly traded firms and several closely held operations, including Four Seasons hotels and Corbis.

Less than a quarter of Gates’s fortune is held in Microsoft. He has donated $28bn to the Bill and& Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bridgitt Arnold, a spokes- woman for Gates, declined to comment. Arturo Elias, Slim’s spokesman, didn’t return messages.

Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett is the world’s third-richest person with $59.7bn. He is $3.7bn ahead of Spaniard Amancio Ortega, Europe’s wealthiest person. Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, ranks fifth with a $55.6bn fortune. The world’s largest furniture retailer generated more than $36bn in revenue and $4bn in net income in 2012.

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have seen their fortunes rise more than 22% year-to-date as shares of the world’s most popular search provider have surged. They rank No 18 and No 19 respectively.


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