OCT 23, 2015 @ 11:27 AM
I write about the most successful people in the world.
MONACO – JUNE 26: Amancio Ortega Gaona attends the International Monte-Carlo Jumping at Port Hercule on June 26, 2014 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Bill Gates briefly relinquished his title as the world’s richest man to Spanish retail giant Amancio Ortega Friday morning.
Ortega’s net worth hit $80 billion as stock in his holding company Industria de Diseño Textil reached an all-time high of 33.99 Euros per share.
Gates quickly reclaimed the top ranking after Ortega’s shares slipped slightly to 33.80 Euros as of 10:52 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
The two billionaires will likely swap the title of world’s richest man in the coming days, as shares of Inditex, Microsoft and their other holdings continue to bounce up and down.
Industria de Diseño Textil, or Inditex, is the parent company to brands Zara, Pull&Bear and Massimo Dutti. The $20 billion (sales) enterprise is the envy of the retail world, with its fast-fashion model that can design, make, ship and sell a piece of clothing in days. That allows Inditex to react quickly to changing customer demands and keep its stores stocked with the latest trends.
Inditex shares are up more than 50% in the last year. Ortega’s gains in the billionaire ranks are even more impressive since Forbes measures fortunes in dollars, and the value of the Euro has fallen from $1.27 a year ago to $1.10 today.
The son of a railway worker, Ortega cofounded Zara with his wife Rosalia Mera in 1975, selling bathrobes and lingerie. He still owns 59% of the company today. The couple divorced years ago, and daughter Sandra Ortega Mera inherited Rosalia’s stake when her mother died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage in August 2013. Sandra is now the second-richest person in Spain, with a fortune of $7.3 billion.
Amancio Ortega makes hundreds of millions in dividends from Inditex each year, and he has been plowing that money into an ever-expanding real estate empire.
He has purchased significant buildings in London, Barcelona, Madrid and Chicago.
In September he reportedly put down $370 million to buy an entire block of retail space in Miami.
Recommended by Forbes
Inside The 2015 Forbes Billionaires List: Facts And Figures
Bill Gates Now Owns Less of Microsoft Than Steve Ballmer
Carlos Slim's New Women's Fashion Line To Compete Against World-Class Reta...
Photos: The Forbes Fab 40: The World's Most Valuable Sports Brands 2015
In the most recent report filed with the Spanish registry, Ortega’s real-estate business Pontegadea Inmobiliaria reported assets of more than 5 billion Euros as of 2012.
The business also declared that it had 645 million Euros of debt.
In 1995, Gates made his first appearance on top of the Forbes World’s Billionaires list, which is published in March of every year.
Gates has held the top spot for 15 of the 20 years since, including 2014 and 2015.