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News Article

Bezos Increases His ‘Social Distance’ to Billionaires

By Daniel González | Wed, 04/15/2020 - 16:23

Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, became the world’s richest man again on Tuesday after his company’s stocks reached an all-time high. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the e-commerce company has watched demand for its services grow exponentially, allowing Bezos to widen the gap with his competitors on the list of the world’s richest men after adding US$6.4 billion to his personal wealth. The technology tycoon reaches more than US$138 billion, while Amazon shares are valued at US$2,283 per share, according to Forbes.

The compulsory confinement decreed by many of the world’s governments has made Amazon indispensable to citizens in order to survive the crisis. Food, medical and pharmaceutical supplies and basic necessities continue to arrive regularly to homes around the world thanks to the investments made by the company before COVID-19 became the main threat to the global economy. In addition, in early February, Bezos, who owns 11.4 percent of the company, sold US$4 billion in Amazon shares, which allowed him to add another US$3.1 billion to his holdings after tax collection. The same goes for his ex-wife Mackenzie Bezos, who owns 4 percent of the company. Thanks to these latest stock movements, the co-founder of the online sales company has increased her wealth by US$2.2 billion to US$44.1 billion. 

At Tuesday session’s closing, the value of Amazon grew by 5.3 percent. The technology company’s stocks have rose 20 percent since the beginning of 2020, surpassing the S&P 500 benchmark, which has fallen 12 percent so far this year. However, Jeff Bezos is not the only tycoon who has seen his fortune increase in recent months. The fortunes of Amancio Ortega, founder of Inditex, rose last week by US$7.2 billion after his company’s stocks rebounded after a difficult start in 2020. The containment of the virus in Spain and the decrease in deaths allowed a slow recovery for the IBEX 35, which groups the main companies in the country. Something similar happened with Bernard Arnault, from LVMH, whose assets increased by US$6.3 billion. In recent days, LVMH followed the trend of French companies, with its market value rising last week after difficult days in the country brought by COVID-19.

The international retail tycoons also had a good week of gains. Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet also increased their personal fortunes significantly. Buffet’s case is significant. On April 3 he decided to get rid of 18 percent of Delta Airlines and 4 percent of Southwest Airlines, a cunning move that came before the big airline crisis and has allowed him to keep his assets virtually intact.

As for Bezos, the success that his company is experiencing, among other things thanks to the bet he made on Whole Foods supermarkets in 2017, has stopped his plans to sell 100 percent of his Amazon shares to fund Blue Origin, a space exploration company. For now, Amazon and Bezos have become the main winners during the COVID-19 crisis. Amazon’s prosperous business could in fact be prolonged, following Science magazine’s not too promising projection. According to the publication, in case it is impossible to discover a vaccine against COVID-19, the periods of mandatory confinement could be extended until 2022. Bad news for humanity; great news for Amazon.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Forbes, CNBC, El País, Science
Daniel González Daniel González Senior Writer