Zuckerberg's fortune takes big hit

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg lost $US3.2 billion during the week as shares of his social-networking company fell 16.5 per cent, according to list of the world's richest people. 

Zuckerberg, 28, was the biggest loser among the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with a $US16.2 billion fortune ranking him as the 35th richest person in the world.

The world's wealthiest lost a combined $US1.5 billion this week as concerns about Greece's potential exit from the euro area and Spain's finances pushed the euro below $US1.25 for the first time since July 2010. But the news wasn't all bad for the billionaires.

Mexican Carlos Slim, 72, gained $US592.5 million during the week, as shares of his Mexico City-based telecommunications company America Movil SAB rose 2.4 per cent. Slim remains the world's richest person with a $US66.1 billion net worth.

“This is clearly a week where investors were exhibiting tremendous concern about the European and American economies and the prospects for returning to recession,” said Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal Research.

The S&P 500 fell 0.2 per cent to 1317.82 in New York on May 25 after gaining for four straight days, leaving it up 1.7 per cent for the week. The week's rebound followed an 8.7 per cent slump from a four-year high in April through May 18 that dragged the index's price-to-earnings ratio to as low as 13.1, the cheapest valuation using reported earnings since November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


The S&P 500 is down 7.1 per cent since April 2.

Columbia's richest

Bill Gates ranks second on the index with a net worth of $US59.8 billion - $US6.3 billion behind Slim. Gates's nest egg rose 1.1 per cent as Microsoft shares fell 0.72 per cent during the week. Three quarters of Gates's fortune is held outside of Microsoft.

Colombia's richest man debuted on the index this week. Luis Carlos Sarmiento, 79, is worth $US15.6 billion, making him the 39th richest person in the world. Sarmiento owns about 63 per cent of the preferred shares of publicly traded financial conglomerate Grupo Aval, as well as an insurance company and a closely held real estate firm, Construcciones Planificadas.

Eike Batista was down $US600 million during the week and is now worth $US27.1 billion. The richest person in Brazil saw shares of coal producer CCX Carvao da Colombia surge in their first day of trading May 25. CCX, which was spun off by power producer MPX Energia, rose 17 per cent to 8.51 reais in Sao Paulo. MPX gained 5.4 per cent.

Facebook falls

The reality is Facebook is a great business, but it is not without risk.

Other Facebook fortunes fell during the week. Eduardo Saverin, 30, has a $US1.7 billion stake, down $US324 million since the company's IPO. According to a regulatory filing dated May 17, he owns 53.1 million shares of the company.

Sean Parker, who persuaded Zuckerberg to move to California to focus on the company full time in 2004, owns 66 million Facebook shares worth $US2.1 billion, down $US402 million since May 17.

“The reality is Facebook is a great business, but it is not without risk,” said Wieser, who maintains a $US30 price target for the social networking company. “Investors are only just beginning to explore and understand the dynamics around Facebook the company.”

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, is not a billionaire. According to regulatory filings, Facebook will withhold 45 per cent of the vested restricted stock units she has earned since joining the company in 2008, making her remaining stake worth about $US440 million. The shares are being withheld to pay taxes. The company plans to release the restricted units in November 2012.


Asia's richest man is Li Ka-Shing, who owns a controlling stake in Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa. Li is worth $US21.6 billion, making him the world's 19th richest person. He was up $US35 million during the week.

Cheng Yu Tung ranks 40th on the list. The Hong Kong-based billionaire is worth $US15.6 billion; the majority of his fortune held through Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world's wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting.