The world's richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, grew his wealth by $24bn to $123bn in 2018.
The world's richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, grew his wealth by $24bn to $123bn in 2018.
Image: REUTERS

The markets may be tanking, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of mega-fortunes from being unearthed in 2018.

The popularity of Fortnite, the phenomenon that forced some into video-game rehab, gave gamemaker Tim Sweeney a $7.2bn fortune this year. Autry Stephens has $11.4bn after his closely held Endeavour Energy Resources attracted bids that valued the oil company at as much as $15bn.

“It was a good year for wealth creation,“ said Michael Zeuner, managing partner of WE Family Offices. “It was a tough year in financial markets, but for people who are creating wealth through companies, the economy itself is very strong.”

Sweeney and Stephens were just two of the 31 individuals who vaulted onto the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in 2018, even as increasing global trade tensions and a downdraft in the markets saw half a trillion dollars of wealth on the ranking wiped out.

Denise Coates, the British founder and CEO of online bookmaker Bet365 Group, is another addition. Coates is nearly 10 times richer than Queen Elizabeth II, according to the ranking.

While Coates had a good year, market turmoil pushed many wealthy people into the red. The world’s 500 richest people lost $451bn this year. That’s a sharp reversal from 2017 when they added $1-trillion to their fortunes.

Here are the billionaires who gained and lost in 2018.

Winners

Singaporean billionaires fared the best in dollar terms, gaining $2.5bn. That pushed the wealth of the country’s richest to a collective net worth of $38bn.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and the richest man in the world, was 2018’s biggest gainer for the second year running. His net worth grew about $24bn to $123bn. But even he was a loser in the second half of the year as stock markets were routed. From a September peak, Bezos has since seen his fortune drop $45bn.

Despite Chinese billionaires’ total loss of nearly $76bn this year, some of the country’s richest still came out ahead, including Lei Jun, founder of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Jun trailed only Bezos among the biggest gainers of 2018, adding $8.6bn to his fortune.

Losers

American billionaires saw the biggest loss this year, collectively dropping $76bn, largely because of December’s market rout. Mark Zuckerberg saw the sharpest drop in 2018 as Facebook veered from crisis to crisis. His net worth fell nearly $20bn, leaving the 34-year-old with a $53bn fortune.

China’s Wang Jianlin, Jack Ma and Ma Huateng made up three of the 10 biggest losers this year. Fifty people dropped off the index, including 11 from China or Hong Kong, nine from the US and four from Russia.

Among those who fell off the list were Andrej Babis, the prime minister of the Czech Republic whose fortune is derived from his chemical and agricultural company Agrofert, and Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, whose net worth plunged to a record low as stock of Rusal fell on concern that the aluminum giant could halt some production because of US sanctions.

And 13 billionaires on the ranking died this year, including Microsoft’s Paul Allen, Hong Kong real estate developer Walter Kwok and Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, owner of Premier League football club Leicester City.

Bloomberg