Fashion tycoon Amancio Ortega, owner of clothing chain Zara, has toppled Warren Buffett in the place the world''s third richest man, with a fortune of £30billion.
The 76-year-old Spaniard bumped the Oracle of Omaha off the podium after shares in his retail giant Inditex gained 3.8 percent yesterday to close at a record high, pushing his net worth up by around £1billion.
The news of the tycoon''s fortune comes as Spain tries to cope with an unemployment level of nearly 20 percent and a beleaguered government which seems just days from asking for an European bailout.
With a fortune estimated now at £29.7billion, Mr Ortega narrowly pushes philanthropist Mr Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, who is worth an estimated £29.1billion, off third place.
Despite their enormous wealth, each of them would have to nearly double their personal wealth to take Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim''s crown as the world''s richest man.
Bloomberg Billionaires Index today estimated Mr Slim''s net worth at £47.3billion. Microsoft founder Bill Gates sits comfortably in second place with £40billion.
But if Mr Ortega''s wealth continues to grow, it may not be long before he''s in contention for the top two spots.
His wealth has surged by 32 percent this year alone, despite a deep recession in his native Spain, where the government is resisting pressure to ask for a bailout from the European Central Bank.
That has been based on thephenomenal success of his company, which has grown its profits for 12 straight quarters after moving into emerging markets and reducing its dependence on Spain, where unemployment is above 20 percent.
The son of a railway worker, Mr Ortega was born in Busdongo de Arbás, León, and lived his childhood in León. Starting his career as a gofer in various shirt stores in La Coruña, Galicia, in 1972 he founded Confecciones Goa (his initials in reverse), which made bathrobes.
In 1975 he opened the first store in what would grow into the enormously popular chain of fashion stores called Zara.
Despite his great wealth - or perhaps because of it - Mr Ortega lives in a discreet apartment in La Coruna and is said to prefer to keep a very low profile.
keep a low profile: 保持低调