economy. Rififi in the Forbes ranking of billionaires

Double Cocorico. The Forbes ranking of the richest people in the world in January was announced by the magazine. And whether it’s the monthly Top 10 or the real-time ranking, Bernard Arnault (LVMH) takes the top spot. The first girl, at 12e place, is none other than Françoise Bettencourt (L’Oréal). Seven out of ten billionaires are Americans.

Bernard Arnault is the head of the luxury family group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), which owns about 75 brands such as Christian Dior, Sephora, Loewe, Fendi, Celine, Givenchy, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart , Bulgari , Chaumet, Tiffany & Co… The Arnault family has been in the Forbes Top 5 for a long time.

If one might think that a monthly ranking is less important than an annual ranking, this is far from the case here. Because it reflects the many scandals and spectacular losses, which have occurred in recent months -Elon Musk, the collapse of Gafam – or in recent days -Gautam Adani.

So, if we compare with the annual ranking of Forbes in 2022, we can notice the fall of only 6 members of the Top 10: Elon Musk (then 1eh), Jeff Bezos (2e), Bill Gates (4e), Larry Page (6e), Sergey Brin (7e), and Steve Ballmer.

Elon Musk lost big

At the head of the amazing waterfall, Elon Musk. His wealth is estimated at 200.6 billion euros in 2022. It is at 163.3 billion today. Almost twice less than in 2021, when it reached 293.1 billion euros.

Since he bought Twitter, the billionaire has made some risky decisions. Which is reflected in the stock prices of his other companies, Tesla and SpaceX. But his Tesla shares make up the bulk of his fortune. And they fell by 50% between November 2021 and January 31, 2023.

For Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Steve Ballmer (former Microsoft executive), the crisis facing technology giants is there. Whether Amazon, Alphabet (Google) or Microsoft, all have announced massive layoffs. The reason ? After two years of “amazing” growth and all-out hiring, the “economic context is different”, marked by high inflation and rising interest rates. However, their fortune consists in part of their shares in the stock market. So the income goes down.

What about Mark Zuckerberg? The emblematic boss of Meta (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp…) has disappeared from 5e place on March 2021 on the 23rde place last month. For the same reasons as his colleagues in Silicon Valley.

Gautam Adani, the most shocking fall

But this week, all eyes are on Gautam Adani. Within a few weeks, the leader of the Indian group Adani Group was third in the Top 10 in real time from Forbes. His rise seems obvious. But that was before the scandal.

Gautam Adani, 60, has seen his empire grow at breakneck speed, with Adani Enterprises’ share price rising more than 1,000% in the past five years. The tycoon made a fortune in ports and trading goods. He now heads India’s third-largest conglomerate with interests ranging from coal mining and edible oils, to airports and media.

However, on January 24, the American investment company Hindenburg Research unveiled a shocking investigation, accusing the group of accounting fraud and “senseless manipulation of shares and a system of accounting fraud within several decades”. The Adani group denied this, saying they were the victims of a “malicious” attack aimed at damaging its reputation.

In one week, the value of the conglomerate’s listed companies lost $104 billion and Adani’s personal fortune shrank by tens of billions of dollars. Thursday night, the course of some of its titles was still undisturbed.

From 3e on the 17the up to a week

The group on Wednesday night canceled its follow-on public offering (FPO) of $2.5 billion shares in Adani Enterprises that was oversubscribed the day before, as the struggling tycoon deemed it “not morally right to continue the operation.”

The sale should help reduce the company’s worrying debt levels and restore confidence by expanding its shareholder base. Mr. personally insisted. Adani said in a video released Thursday that “the fundamentals of our business are very strong, our balance sheet is healthy and our assets are solid.”

However, banks, such as Credit Suisse or Citigroup, stopped accepting the conglomerate’s bonds as collateral for margin loans granted to its customers. Put simply, Adani shares can no longer be used as collateral because their future is uncertain.

The effect is also political. India’s parliament had to adjourn on Thursday morning after repeated outbursts from MPs demanding the government debate Adani and the level of exposure of public sector banks and financial institutions. As India fears that the fall of the magnate will drag the country down with it…

Now, Gautam Adani has left at 3e put in the real-time ranking of billionaires at 17e place this Thursday night. And it should continue to decline. More than ever, Forbes’ Top 10 Richest in the World echo not waves of the global economy, but tsunamis.

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