Wealth Wipeout Reshapes Ranks of World’s Richest People

As global markets continued to slide amid coronavirus concerns worldwide, ten of the world’s richest people lost $18.8 billion combined in the past week.

Mark Zuckerberg lost more than anyone, as his net worth dropped by $4.1 billion to $67 billion. Facebook’s advertising revenue has high exposure to sectors that are “at risk” from coronavirus, according to Needham analyst Laura Martin. "Our channel checks indicate lower spending in travel, retail, consumer packaged goods, and entertainment, which together represent 30%-45% of Facebook's total revenue," Martin wrote in a research note.

Most of the billionaires whose fortunes took a hit hail from the U.S., but the second-biggest loser by far was Mukesh Ambani, whose net worth dropped $3.2 billion to $47.8 billion. India’s richest person, 62-year-old Ambani leads oil and gas giant Reliance Industries, which was founded by his late father. With an oversupply of oil, a prospective OPEC deal to cut 1.5 million daily barrels, and customers curtailing travel due to contagion fears, oil prices are at multi-year lows. The BSE Oil & Gas index, which tracks India’s largest oil and gas stocks, fell nearly 3% in the week ending Friday, March 6.

Energy stocks have also taken a beating in the U.S. Oklahoma fracking pioneer Harold Hamm lost nearly $1.2 billion, bringing his net worth down to $4.4 billion. His oil company, Continental Resources, recently reported that it beat fourth-quarter earnings guidance and increased revenues, but it was still affected by weaker prices for natural gas.

The spread of coronavirus — there are now more than 105,000 confirmed cases in more than 90 countries and 3,500 deaths tied to COVID-19 — has disrupted supply chains across many sectors, including the automotive industry. German billionaire Georg Schaeffler, is worth $10.1 billion after a $1.3 billion drop. Schaeffler and his mother, Maria-Elisabeth, own Schaeffler Group, one of the world’s largest producers of ball bearings and machine-components and the parent company of tire and auto parts giant Continental AG, which constitutes most of their wealth. (Maria-Elisabeth also lost $350 million, bringing her net worth down to $2.5 billion).

Arizona billionaire Ernie Garcia II is $1 billion poorer after Carvana, his used-car seller, projected a 50-60% sales deceleration with its recent fourth-quarter report. Garcia is now worth $4.6 billion and his son, Ernie Garcia III, who lost $500 million, is worth $1.8 billion.

Alphabet cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were other big losers as Google’s ad revenue growth is predicted to decline. Travel ads are the fourth-largest category of Google search ads but will likely decline due to coronavirus panic, wrote Needham analyst Laura Martin in a research note. Martin cut her full-year 2020 revenue forecast to $188.8 billion from $192.8 billion, and admitted her estimate could be “optimistic” as it did not account for cuts in ad spend for other verticals.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson lost $1.5 billion in the past week, bringing down his net worth to $34.2 billion.  Las Vegas Sands Corp. generates more than 60% of its revenue from its Macau operations, which were shut down for 15 days in February due to the coronavirus outbreak. According to the Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau of Macau, casino revenue dropped an astounding 88% in February.

“This storm will pass,” said Las Vegas Sands COO Robert Goldstein in the fourth-quarter earnings call. “We don't know when. We do know when it passes, we will be first in line in each of our markets to be the biggest investor, most aggressive in Macau.”

Below is the complete list of the world’s biggest billionaire losers in the week through March 6:

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, U.S. -$4.1 billion

Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries, India -$3.2 billion

Larry Ellison, Oracle, U.S. - $2.2 billion

Larry Page, Alphabet, U.S. - $1.7 billion

Sergey Brin, Alphabet, U.S. -$1.6 billion

Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands Corp., U.S. -$1.5 billion

Georg Schaeffler, Schaeffler Group, Germany -$1.3 billion

Harold Hamm & family, Continental Resources, U.S. -$1.2 billion

Ernie Garcia II, Carvana, U.S. -$1 billion

Thomas Peterffy, Interactive Brokers, U.S. -$1 billion.

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