Gates briefly lost his title as the world’s richest man to Ortega, who was number four on the list before his sudden rise, Friday morning, when Ortega’s net worth hit $80 billion as stock in his holding company Industria de Diseño Textil reached an all-time high of 33.99 Euros per share.
However, Gates who made his first appearance on top of the Forbes World’s Billionaires list, published in March of every year and has held the top spot for 16 of the past 21 years, quickly reclaimed the top ranking after Ortega’s shares slipped slightly to 33.80 Euros as of 10:52 am, Eastern Standard Time, Forbes reported.
The two billionaires will likely swap the title of world’s richest man in the coming days, as shares of Inditex , Microsoft MSFT +9.43% and their other holdings continue to bounce up and down.
This is not the first time Gates would be knocked off of the top of the list. Mexican telecom tycoon, Carlos Slim Helú, and American investor, Warren Buffett, have knocked Gates off of his throne in the past but this is the first time Ortega has claimed the top spot.
Industria de Diseño Textil, or Inditex, is the parent company to brands Zara, Pull&Bear and Massimo Dutti. The $20 billion (sales) enterprise is the envy of the retail world, with its fast-fashion model that can design, make, ship and sell a piece of clothing in days.
That allows Inditex to react quickly to changing customer demands and keep its stores stocked with the latest trends.
Inditex shares are up more than 50% in the last year. Ortega’s gains in the billionaire ranks are even more impressive since Forbes measures fortunes in dollars, and the value of the Euro has fallen from $1.27 a year ago to $1.10 today.
The son of a railway worker, Ortega cofounded Zara with his wife Rosalia Mera in 1975, selling bathrobes and lingerie. He still owns 59 per cent of the company today.
The couple divorced years ago and daughter, Sandra Ortega Mera inherited Rosalia’s stake when her mother died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage in August 2013. Sandra is now the second-richest person in Spain with a fortune of $7.3 billion.
Amancio Ortega makes hundreds of millions in dividends from Inditex each year and he has been plowing that money into an ever-expanding real estate empire.
He has purchased significant buildings in London, Barcelona, Madrid and Chicago. In September he reportedly put down $370 million to buy an entire block of retail space in Miami.
In the most recent report filed with the Spanish registry, Ortega’s real-estate business Pontegadea Inmobiliaria reported assets of more than 5 billion Euros as of 2012. The business also declared that it had 645 million Euros of debt.
Gates on the other hand cofounded Microsoft in 1975, dropping out of Harvard to build the business with his high school friend Paul Allen. Gates stepped down as CEO in 2000 and has been selling off his Microsoft shares for years.
In May 2014, his successor as CEO Steve Ballmer became the largest individual shareholder in Microsoft. Gates has diversified his fortune across a number of holdings, including Canadian National Railway Company, Waste Management and Deere & Co.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given away more than $30 billion since 2000.
The World’s Billionaires is an annual ranking of the world’s wealthiest people, compiled and published by the American business magazine Forbes in March. The total net worth of each individual on the list is estimated, in United States dollars, based on their assets and accounting for debt.
Royalty and dictators whose wealth comes from their positions are excluded from these lists. The list has been published annually in March since 1987. Gates has topped the list 16 of the past 21 years, including the 2015 list.
In 2015, there was a record of 1,826 people on the list that included a record 290 newcomers with 71 from China, 57 from the US, 28 from India and Germany with 23. People under 40 had 46 join the list. A record of 197 women were on the list.
The average net worth of the list came in at $3.86 billion, down $60 million from 2014. Added together, the total net worth for 2015’s billionaires was $7.05 trillion, up from $6.4 trillion in 2014.