Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Billionaires: Bernard Arnault could become the world’s richest man following Tiffany deal

In our fortnightly roundup, the LVMH owner’s fortune surges by almost $3bn and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg says the US needs ‘more immigrants’

LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault overtook second place Bill Gates and is within striking distance of Jeff Bezos for the title of world's richest man. Photo: AFP
LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault overtook second place Bill Gates and is within striking distance of Jeff Bezos for the title of world's richest man. Photo: AFP

Bernard Arnault

Since Bernard Arnault, the chairman of French luxury group LVMH, struck a deal to buy American jeweller Tiffany & Co for more than $16.2 billion (Dh59.5bn) last week, his fortune has surged by nearly $3bn.

A day after the Tiffany acquisition was announced, Mr Arnault’s net worth jumped 2.8 per cent, or $2.85bn, to $107.8bn, according to Forbes. He was previously in third place of the world’s richest, following Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

The Tiffany deal boosted LVMH shares and led him to overtake Mr Gates, whose net worth is around $107.5bn, tracked in real time by Forbes. Mr Bezos still holds the crown with $111.7bn.

Once Mr Arnault acquires Tiffany in 2020, his net worth is expected to pass Mr Bezos, the Daily Mail reported.

Other notable billionaires near the top of the list are Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Warren Buffett, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Oracle founder Larry Ellison, but none are even close to the $100bn mark.

Michael Bloomberg launched his Democratic presidential bid on November 25. Photo: Reuters
Michael Bloomberg launched his Democratic presidential bid on November 25. Photo: Reuters

Michael Bloomberg

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his hat into the US 2020 presidential race last week and started his campaign by blasting President Donald Trump’s policies.

The billionaire, who is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg, said the US needs “an awful lot more immigrants rather than less”. He contrasted his views on immigration with Mr Trump’s restrictive policies and laid out a vision of a multicultural society enriched by immigrants.

“We need immigrants to take all the different kinds of jobs that the country needs — improve our culture, our cuisine, our religion, our dialogue and certainly improve our economy,” he told reporters at a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona.

He criticised Mr Trump’s policies that resulted in the separation of families arriving on the US-Mexico border, saying “ripping kids away from their parents is a disgrace”.

Although Mr Bloomberg, 77, previously said in March he would not run for the presidency, he said he decided to make a late entry out of fears that the current field of candidates would lose to Mr Trump.

“I think that there is a greater risk of having Donald Trump re-elected than there was before, and in the end, I looked in the mirror and said, ‘We just cannot let this happen,’” Mr Bloomberg said after announcing his bid.

Mr Bloomberg also defended his decision to fund his campaign without seeking outside donors, despite criticism from other Democrats that the businessman is trying to “buy” the presidency. He launched his White House bid with a record $37 million TV advertising blitz across the US last week.

Mr Bloomberg has a net worth of approximately $54bn, according to Forbes.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk unveiled the new all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck last month. A defamation suit brought by a British cave explorer goes to trial on Tuesday. Photo: AFP
Tesla chief executive Elon Musk unveiled the new all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck last month. A defamation suit brought by a British cave explorer goes to trial on Tuesday. Photo: AFP

Elon Musk

An attorney for Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of electric car maker Tesla, said his client had no intention of settling a defamation suit brought by a British cave explorer before the case goes to trial on December 3.

Vernon Unsworth is suing Mr Musk for calling him a "pedo guy" in one of a series of tweets. Mr Musk posted the tweets after Mr Unsworth accused Mr Musk in a CNN interview of grandstanding by offering to help Mr Unsworth's diving team rescue 12 boys and their football coach from a cave in Thailand in July 2018.

Asked after Tuesday's session in US District Court in Los Angeles if there was any chance Mr Musk would settle before the civil trial, his attorney Alex Spiro told Reuters: “No.”

The defamation suit is one of the last remaining issues hanging over Mr Musk from a turbulent period in 2018 and early 2019, during which the tech entrepreneur's use of Twitter and his personal behaviour rattled Tesla shareholders and drew pressure from regulators.

Mr Musk has apologised for the "pedo guy" comment, saying it was a common insult in his native country of South Africa, and that he did not intend to accuse Mr Unsworth of paedophilia.

Meanwhile, Mr Musk has been tweeting about orders for Tesla’s futuristic Cybertruck pickup, claiming first the company had already received 200,000 orders and a few days later updated that to 250,000.

The new truck, made of stainless steel used in rockets and priced at $39,900 and above, failed to impress Wall Street after its "armoured glass" windows shattered in a launch demonstration and analysts argued the design would not have mass appeal.

Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban bought Democracy.com for at least $300,000 in an auction. Photo: Bloomberg
Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban bought Democracy.com for at least $300,000 in an auction. Photo: Bloomberg

Mark Cuban

American businessman Mark Cuban, who is known for his role as an investor on the TV show Shark Tank, is the new owner of Democracy.com.

He bought the domain in an auction for an undisclosed price, higher than the minimum bid set at $300,000, The New York Times reported.

He told the paper he bought it “to make sure someone didn't do something crazy with it”.

Talmage Cooley, the site's previous owner, used it as a start-up social platform where politicians and civic groups could connect with supporters. When the platform ran out of money, Mr Cooley decided to auction it off. He emailed Mr Cuban inviting him to make a bid, just a few days before it was set to close.

“I’m glad that somebody in the US bought it, as opposed to a Russian counter-democracy organisation,” Mr Cooley said.

Mr Cuban endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. Earlier this year he hinted at the possibility of running for the presidency in 2020 as an independent, but in a September interview on Fox Business Network, he said: “My family voted it down … If you can change their mind, I’m all in.”

Mr Cuban has a net worth of approximately $4.1bn, according to Forbes.

Patrice Motsepe spoke at the the Milken Institute MENA Summit 2019 in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The brother-in-law to Pres.ident Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Motsepe made his fortune in the gold mining industry. Pawan Singh / The National
Patrice Motsepe spoke at the the Milken Institute MENA Summit 2019 in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The brother-in-law to Pres.ident Cyril Ramaphosa, Mr Motsepe made his fortune in the gold mining industry. Pawan Singh / The National

Patrice Motsepe

South Africa’s only black billionaire, Patrice Motsepe, has taken a key stake in the country’s best performing rugby team, adding to his sporting interests as he already owns the national football champions.

Mr Motsepe bought a 37 per cent stake in the Blue Bulls Company for an undisclosed amount.

The equal co-owners of the club, investment holding company Remgro and the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, cut their interest to 37 per cent and 26 per cent respectively, to pave way for Mr Motsepe’s buy-in, Blue Bulls said.

The Blue Bulls are South Africa’s only multiple winner of the prestigious Super Rugby competition, which includes teams from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Argentina.

The team shares a stadium in Pretoria with Mr Motsepe’s football club, Mamelodi Sundowns.

Mr Motsepe, who is brother-in-law to President Cyril Ramaphosa, made his fortune in the gold mining industry but his interests now span a range of metals as well as investments in financial services.

Forbes estimates his net worth at $2.2bn.

Updated: December 2, 2019 04:45 AM

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