Amancio Ortega, the Spanish fashion magnate, has surpassed Bill Gates as the wealthiest in the world according to Forbes’ real-time tracker with a net worth just shy of eight billion dollars ($79.8 billion).
Amancio Ortega’s humble birth and upbringing began in Busdongo de Arbás, León, Spain. At the age of 14, he left school and moved to La Coruña after his father accepted a low-paying job as a railway worker. Shortly thereafter, Ortega took a job as a shop hand for a local shirt maker called Gala. It was here, that young Amancio learned to make shirts by hand. Following a few successful businesses he began he opened his first Zara store in 1975. Zara is now part of Zara is part of the Inditex group (Industrias de Diseño Textil Sociedad Anónima), of which Ortega owns 59.29%. It’s that ownership that sees him at the acme of Forbes’ iconic wealth list.
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Ortega’s recent ascension to the top
The Inditex Group’s primary moneymaker is its Zara stores but there are a number of other brands which when combined with Zara number over 6,000 plus its strong online presence. The group has over 92,000 employees on its books.
Let’s be clear, Bill Gates still has ungodly wealth, and it’s not the first time that the Microsoft founder has found himself with massive wealth only to be looking up at another. Carlos Slim has held that postion on a handful of occasions but Gates has never found himself looking up to Ortega.
But that changed this week when Inditex stock took a significant jump in trading moving the humble, near reclusive, Ortega to the top.
If Forbes is correct, Ortega saw his wealth increase by 5.3% in the last 24 hours adding around $4 billion to his already massive stack. While that is quite the jump, it’s consistent with the rise of Inditex (driven by Zara) which has seen its market value increase by nearly 600% (572%) in the last decade.
The rise in Inditex shares is largely credited to an announcement from Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank, that the ECB would increase its quantitative easing program. Suffice is to say, the bulk of eurozone shares exploded on Thursday but the real winner on the personal stage was Ortega.