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Billionaires begin 2014 a half-trillion dollars richer: The biggest winners and losers

Lauren Lyster
Daily Ticker

The richest people in the world start the new year $524 billion richer than in 2013. That’s according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which ranks the 300 wealthiest people across the globe.

“It is one of biggest gains we’ve seen in a really long time – probably in the last decade,” Bloomberg Billionaires Editor Matt Miller tells The Daily Ticker in the accompanying video. Miller points to the easy money policies of central banks, low interest rates, and stock market gains of 2013. We sat down with Miller to talk about the biggest winners and losers.

Related: Billionaire revealed: The biggest company you've never heard of

Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft, was the biggest gainer of the year adding $15.8b to his $78.5b fortune, a sum that makes him the richest person in the world. Not only did shares of Microsoft (MSFT) rise 40% in 2013, but Gates also benefited from a rally in stock holdings he owns through an investment entity called Cascade Investment. Check out the video to see which of those holdings were the biggest gainers.

Sheldon Adelson -- founder of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), the world’s largest casino company -- was the runner-up. Adelson added $14.4b to his net worth and can thank his success in the Chinese city of Macau for the gains. More than 50% of his company’s sales come from Macau. And he wasn’t the only billionaire who benefited handsomely from success in Macau, as Miller explains in the video.

The year’s biggest loser was Eike Batista, who has gone from Brazil’s richest man to losing $12b in wealth last year and ending 2013 with a negative net worth. That’s right, negative. Miller says that’s “quite unusual” and they’ve “never really seen anything happen like this before,” where an individual who was once the 8th richest person in the world loses so much money. The losses came as his oil company OGX Petroleo & Gas Participacoes filed for bankruptcy. More broadly, Miller explains that Batista had about a half-dozen publicly traded commodities startups that started to borrow against one another when they weren’t delivering for investors. Then it all came crashing down. The moral of that story: Don’t over-promise.

Related: Former world's 8th richest man loses $34.5 billion

The award for biggest percentage gainer for a self-made billionaire goes to Tesla (TSLA) Co-founder and CEO Elon Musk. Gains in Tesla shares helped drive Musk's net worth up 233% or $5.6b during the year.

Meanwhile, the biggest gains for billionaires came from the technology industry, where the biggest dollar gainer was Facebook (FB) founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Shares of the social media company more than doubled last year.

Related: Facebook surges and Mark Zuckerberg pockets $3.8 billion

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