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Gates widens lead over Slim as richest lose $27 billion

Carlos Slim, left, and Bill Gates attend the launch of International Center for Improvement of Maize and Wheat in Texcoco, Mexico, on February 13, 2013

The 200 richest people on the planet erased $26.6 billion from their collective net worth this week as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, 57, extended his lead over Mexico's Carlos Slim as the world's richest person to $4.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Almost all of Gates's investments, including a 4.8 percent stake in Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, have soared this year while Slim's main holding, a 44 percent stake in America Movil SAB, the largest mobile-phone operator in the Americas, has fallen 14 percent.

America Movil has struggled as lawmakers in Mexico put together new rules to crack down on the dominance of the company, which has 70 percent of the nation's mobile-phone subscribers.

"It's stuck there for a while," said Christopher King, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in Baltimore. "To a certain extent, the regulatory environment in Mexico is a byproduct of the fact that the company has been run so well. It's garnered market share that needs to be scaled back."

Gates's rise comes after the Microsoft chairman donated 3 million shares -- about $100 million -- to an unidentified charity, according to a May 30 regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He has already given away more than $28 billion of his fortune, most of which has been steered into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has a net worth of $72.1 billion.

In the U.S., new reports showed consumer confidence reached the highest level since 2008 and home values jumped the most in seven years.

Buffett buying

Consumer spending declined in April as incomes stagnated, putting the biggest part of the U.S. economy on shaky ground at the start of the second quarter. Household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, dropped 0.2 percent, after a 0.1 percent rise the prior month that was smaller than previously estimated, a Commerce Department report showed today in Washington.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 1.14 percent during the week to close at 1,630.74 in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.81 percent, closing at 300.88.

No. 3 on the ranking is Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) chairman Warren Buffett. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company's energy unit, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., announced it planned to buy Nevada's largest utility, Las Vegas-based NV Energy Inc (NVE)., for $5.6 billion. The acquisition would make it the largest U.S. utility owner with 8.4 million customers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Losing friends

Buffett, 82, has been boosting investments in capital-intensive businesses as he seeks to allocate Berkshire's $49.1 billion in cash as of March 31. He has a fortune valued at $61.1 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, 29, is No. 83 on the index with a $12 billion net worth. The Facebook Inc. (FB) founder's bipartisan political organization,, has been losing friends after it surprised some of its members by setting up partisan offshoots and airing ads promoting Democratic Senator Mark Begich's support for oil drilling and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham's backing of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The tactic angered some pro-environment donors and sparked a social-media campaign against Zuckerberg.

Canadian surge

"The right way to accomplish political objectives is to argue issues on the merits," Elon Musksaid in a telephone interview. The billionaire chairman of electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) stopped participating with earlier this month. "We want a political system that is less cynical over time, not more," he said.

Tesla, which has tripled in market value this year, is also tripling the number of solar-powered supercharger stations so that owners of its Model S sedan can drive to New York from Los Angeles, Musk said.

In Canada, a surge in oil exports to the U.S. helped propel the country's economy in the first quarter to its fastest growth pace since 2011, even as domestic demand expanded at the slowest rate since the 2009 recession.

Gross domestic product grew at a 2.5 percent annualized pace from January to March, the fastest in six quarters, after a revised 0.9 percent gain in the fourth quarter, Statistics Canada said today from Ottawa. The three-month period ended with a 0.2 percent increase in output in March.

Canada's richest person, David Thomson, 55, was down $864 million for the week as shares of Thomson Reuters Corp., the nation's biggest media company, fell 5.1 percent. Thomson is 23rd on the Bloomberg ranking with a $24.6 billion fortune.

Thomson Reuters is a competitor of Bloomberg News.

Chilean bonds

Billionaire Horst Paulmann's Cencosud SA is handing bondholders the best returns among high-grade Chilean debt as the retailer's $1.6 billion share sale trims the record leverage that put it at risk of a downgrade to junk.

Cencosud's $750 million of notes due in 2021 have returned 3.2 percent this year, the most of 58 investment-grade company bonds in Chile and more than six times the 0.5 percent gain for emerging-market bonds with the same BBB-rating, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

At 4.41 percent, the debt now yields 2.13 percentage points more than Treasuries, less than the 2.42 percentage point premium for similarly rated emerging-market corporate debt tracked by Credit Suisse Group AG.

The 78-year-old Paulmann, who turned a family-run restaurant in southern Chile into a $19.6 billion retailer, is regaining investor confidence as the stock sale in March helped cut Cencosud's gross adjusted leverage to 4.6 times from about 5.5 times, according to Fitch Ratings.

Every day

Moody's Investors Service and Fitch warned they may lower the ratings for Latin America's third-largest retailer after it agreed to pay 2 billion euros for Carrefour SA's Colombian assets and sold an additional $1.2 billion in bonds due in 2023 to finance the deal.

Paulmann has a net worth of $5.1 billion.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world's wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York and listed in U.S. dollars.

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