Amancio Ortega Becomes The World's Richest Man, Again: Zara's Owner Beats Bill Gates By A Billion Dollars For The Second Time This Year

Amancio Ortega Becomes The World’s Richest Man Again: Zara’s Owner Beats Bill Gates By A Billion Dollars For The Second Time

Amancio Ortega became the world’s richest individual, surpassing Bill Gates for the second time. With a net worth of $79.5 billion, Ortega beat Gates by a cool billion dollars, after shares of his company surged.

Amancio Ortega is the reclusive multi-billionaire who raised an empire by painstakingly developing Zara, the fashion chain that caters to the millions of fashion conscious urbanites, among other brands. Ortega’s personal fortune jumped $1.7 billion within a single week, placing him firmly on top of the list, surpassing the Microsoft co-founder’s estimated net worth of $78.5 billion. Amancio Ortega’s net worth is about $79.5 billion, confirmed Forbes on Wednesday, adding that he is officially the world’s richest man, for the time being.

Ortega is the owner of Inditex, the parent company to popular enterprises such as Zara, Massimo Dutti, and Pull&Bear. While each of the company is an empire in itself, Amancio Ortega is associated primarily with Zara, a brand that he helped build from the ground up. Working at the grass-root level, Ortega took the clothing group Inditex from a tiny family dressmaker in Spain to the country’s biggest company.

Ortega’s success is largely attributed to the Zara brand, which has easily become the go-to shop for the majority of fashion-conscious city dwellers who mind their budgets as well. With radical business ideas that focused in making the latest in fashion accessible to everyone within the shortest time possible, Zara has fundamentally altered the apparel business. Dubbed the “Fast Fashion” model, Zara essentially promises affordable imitations of catwalk designs, which move from drawing boards to store shelves within two weeks. Moreover, Zara stores stay religiously true to their business model by pulling non-performing designs off the shop floor even quicker.

Amancio Ortega’s fortune is deeply integrated with the share price of Inditex. He currently holds a 53.9 percent stake in the company. Inditex is currently ahead of Gap and Hennes and Mauritz (H&M). In fact, in the last few years, brands owned by Inditex have made the company the world’s largest fashion retailer. The company has 6,000 stores in about 90 countries and is expanding fast. For a company that began in 1975, it is certainly a huge achievement. Ortega’s riches are even more significant because he hails from Spain, a country that recently emerged from a devastating recession that bankrupted many businesses and caused thousands of jobs to disappear almost overnight.


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This isn’t the first time Amancio Ortega has topped the list of world’s richest individuals. After sales shot up last year, Inditex’s shares surged nearly 40 percent, fast-tracking Ortega’s climb among the world’s richest. He briefly topped the list last October. But he quickly conceded the top position to Bill Gates after shares of Microsoft surged the very next day. On Wednesday the tables turned again in favor of Ortega. A rise of Inditex’s shares by 2.5 percent once again placed him on top of the list. While it is not clear how long Ortega will remain the world’s richest man this time, he is certainly way ahead of U.S. investor Warren Buffett and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Ortega is a very reclusive businessman and shuns the limelight. He didn’t even step into the Madrid exchange for the ceremonial ringing of the stock market bell when Inditex became a publicly traded company in 2001. However, in person, Ortega is believed to be an intensely persuasive and energetic person, who is regularly seen at the companies he developed. He is also known to take advice from shop assistants for selection of designs.

[Photo by Alexander Joe/Getty Images]