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Billionaires boost wealth to $US1.9 trillion

The world’s billionaires added $US241 billion to their collective net worth during 2012, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 100 wealthiest individuals.

The index’s aggregate net worth was at $US1.9 trillion at the market close on December 31, with retail and telecommunications fortunes surging about 20% on average during the year.

Of the 100 people who appeared on the final ranking of 2012, only 16 registered a net loss for the 12-month period.

Amancio Ortega, the Spaniard who founded the Zara clothing chain, was the year’s biggest gainer. His fortune increased $US22.2 billion to $US57.5 billion, according to the index, as shares of his company Inditex rose 66.7%.

Carlos Slim, the telecommunications magnate who controls Mexico’s America Movil, maintained his title as the world’s richest person for the entire year. His net worth rose $US13.4 billion – or 21.6% – through December 31, making him the second-biggest gainer by dollars.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ranks second on the list, trailing Mr Slim by $US12.5 billion. He added $US7 billion to his net worth.

Warren Buffett, 82, lost his title as the world’s third- richest man to Mr Ortega on August 6 but gained $US5.1 billion during the year, even after donating 22.3 million Berkshire Class B shares in July to charity.

Brazilian commodities trader Eike Batista was the year’s biggest loser by dollars, falling $US10.1 billion and selling a 5.63% stake in his EBX Group in March to Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison, eighth, rose $US6.4 billion in 2012 as the shares jumped 31.7%.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index measures the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. The valuations are listed in US dollars.

Forbes produces a similar list here.