The richest people on Earth got richer in 2014, adding $92 billion to their collective fortune in the face of falling energy prices and geopolitical turmoil incited by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The net worth of the world’s 400 wealthiest billionaires on Dec. 29 stood at $4.1 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s richest.
The biggest gainer was Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s biggest e-commerce company. Ma, a former English teacher who started the Hangzhou-based company in his apartment in 1999, added $25.1 billion to his fortune, riding a 56 percent surge in the company’s shares since its September initial public offering. Ma, 50, briefly passed Li Ka- shing as Asia’s richest person.
“I am nothing but happy when young people from China do well,” Li, 86, said through his spokeswoman in Hong Kong.
Global stocks rose in 2014, with the MSCI World Index advancing 4.25 percent during the year to close at 1,731.71 on Dec. 29. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index rose 13.1 percent to close at 2,090.57. The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 4.88 percent to close at 344.27.
Two of the year’s other biggest gainers were Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg of the U.S. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., added $13.7 billion to his net worth after the Omaha, Nebraska-based company soared 28 percent as the dozens of operating businesses the 84-year-old chairman bought over the past five decades churned out record profit.
Buffett passed Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim on Dec. 5 to become the world’s second-richest person. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corp., was up $9.1 billion during the year. The 59-year-old remains the world’s richest person with a $87.6 billion fortune.
Zuckerberg, the hoodie-wearing chief executive officer of the world’s largest social-networking company, gained $10.6 billion as the Menlo Park, California-based business rose to a record on Dec. 22.
This year Facebook made headway in mobile, a business that has flourished as mobile advertising increased and marketing initiatives expanded with applications and video. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion has also been paying off: A Citigroup Inc. analyst said on Dec. 19 the photo-sharing app is worth $35 billion.