Brexit fallout: World's richest are US$127.4 billion poorer

Amancio Ortega, Europe's richest person, lost more than US$6 billion after global equity markets reeled from the news that British voters elected to leave the EU.
Amancio Ortega, Europe's richest person, lost more than US$6 billion after global equity markets reeled from the news that British voters elected to leave the EU.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - The world's 400 richest people lost US$127.4 billion on Friday (June 24) as global equity markets reeled from the news that British voters elected to leave the European Union.

The billionaires lost 3.2 per cent of their total net worth, bringing the combined sum to US$3.9 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The biggest decline belonged to Europe's richest person, Amancio Ortega, who lost more than US$6 billion, while nine others dropped more than US$1 billion, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

The richest people in the United Kingdom lost US$5.5 billion (S$7.4 billion), according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as European markets headed for the biggestfall since 2008 and the sterling plunged to its lowest level in more than 30 years.

Britain's richest person, Gerald Grosvenor, led the decline with a loss of US$1 billion, followed by Topshop owner Philip Green, fellow land baron Charles Cadogan and Bruno Schroder, majority shareholder of money manager Schroders.

Mr Green lost almost US$500 million and Mr Schroder lost more than US$600 million. Mr Grosvenor and Mr Cadogan, whose fortunes are derived mostly from London property, lost a combined US$1.6 billion based solely on the drop in sterling.

Peter Hargreaves, co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK's largest retail broker, supported the leave campaign and paid the price in the market reaction to the vote. His net worth tumbled 19 per cent to US$2.9 billion in mid-day trading, the largest percentage drop among the British billionaires.

The billionaire made the largest donation - 3.2 million pounds (S$5.9 million) - to the leave campaign, according to filings with the U.K.'s Electoral Commission.

Inventor James Dyson and construction-equipment magnate Anthony Bamford were vocal advocates of Brexit while Richard Branson, Li Ka-shing and George Soros were among those urging to stay.

Virgin Money Holdings, the UK-listed finance business controlled by Mr Branson's closely held Virgin Group Holdings, saw its shares fall by the most since November 2014. In a post on Virgin Group's website in response to the referendum's result, Mr Branson said the decision to leave the EU will create volatility and cause damage to Britain's economy, but stressed acceptance of the decision and the nation coming together.

"The UK and its amazing, resilient people have weathered many storms - and with determination, resolve and sense of what is right," Mr Branson wrote in the post, which paid tribute to Labour Party MP Jo Cox, who was killed in her West Yorkshire constituency during the referendum campaign. "Those qualities will be needed over the testing months and years to come."

South Africa's richest person Christo Wiese, who owns UK assets including fashion retailer New Look and grocer Iceland, said his "preference was unguardedly for the UK to remain" and was surprised by the result.