By Mike Murphy
For the first time in two years, Jeff Bezos is no longer the richest person in the world. But the new No. 1 is a familiar name.
Bill Gates is back on top, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index , with a fortune of $110 billion as of Friday’s market close. Bezos is just below, at $109 billion.
The Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -0.59% founder and chief executive lost a good chunk of his fortune in his recent divorce. His ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, now has a cool $35 billion, good enough for 24th place on Bloomberg’s list.
Gates, meanwhile, has benefited from the soaring stock of the company he co-founded, Microsoft Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT -0.15% , which has risen 48% year to date. More recently, shares have gained 4% since Microsoft was awarded the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI cloud-computing contract at the end of October. Amazon shares have shrunk about 2% since then. Amazon said last week it intends to protest the decision, which it claims was biased.
According to the Bloomberg list, Gates’ fortune has increased by $19.5 billion this year, while Bezos’s has fallen by $16.2 billion.
Both billionaires could see their net worth dinged a bit more if a Democrat such as Elizabeth Warren wins the White House next year. Under her proposed wealth tax, Gates would pay more than $6 billion annually. Gates, who has pledged to give away most of his fortune to charity, has said he’d happy to pay more in taxes. “If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine,” he recently said.
Lurking just behind Gates and Bezos on the Bloomberg list is French business magnate Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy SE /zigman2/quotes/201350549/delayed FR:MC +0.32% , whose $103 billion fortune has increased by about a third — $34.1 billion — this year.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite BRK.B -0.05% Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is fourth, with $86.6 billion, and Facebook Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -0.23% CEO Mark Zuckerberg rounds out the top five at $74.5 billion.