Billionaires Lose Money Too

This is a cross-post from my other blog. Given my recent string of optimistic posts about the financial fate of the world, I thought it necessary to highlight the plight of the very rich. According to The New Politickler, here are the biggest losers in the financial markets:

Loser #1 Anil Ambani LOSS: $32.5 billion

Indian billionaire Anil Ambani”™s Reliance Communications has recently become the new face of Hollywood film-financing, completing high profile deals with DreamWorks and a series of A-list actors and directors this past year. In fact, just days into the current financial meltdown, Reliance closed its long-simmering deal to invest $500 million in DreamWorks.

Ambani has likely lost more money this year than anyone else worldwide.

Loser #2 Lakshmi Mittal LOSS: $30.5 billion

Last year, Lakshmi Mittal was the wealthiest man in India and Forbes”™s fourth richest person worldwide. Now, he”™s lost $30.5 billion this year after his steelmaking conglomerate ArcelorMittal increased production cuts and its stock dropped precipitously. He”™s just one of the Indians who helped the country”™s richest class lose $200 billion this year.

ArcelorMittal”™s stock price went up through June, then it dropped from $104.77 to around $25 a share now. During that period, Mittal, who owns 43 percent of the company, experienced stock losses totaling $50 billion. Fortunately, taken over the entire year, Mittal”™s net worth has only dropped from roughly $50 billion to around $20 billion.

Loser #3 Sheldon Adelson LOSS: $30 billion

In 2006, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson was the world”™s third richest man and he boldly predicted that he would soon overtake Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to ultimately claim the top spot. But the markets, like craps tables don”™t always behave as you”™d like. The 75 year-old CEO of Las Vegas Sands saw that play out this year, as he lost $30 billion of his net worth. That”™s the same as losing $100 million a day, $4 million an hour or just more than $1,000 a second.

In fact, Adelson”™s is possibly the largest paper loss in U.S. history, even including the Rockefellers”™ $1 billion loss in the Great Depression, adjusted for inflation. (It”™s not the biggest loss worldwide, though.)

As a result of his massive losses, Adelson, who is probably best known for his Venetian casino on the Las Vegas strip, had to halt plans to expand into Macau and Singapore, which he was still pursuing a few months ago, despite the economic downturn and rivals like Steve Wynn”™s decisions to cut back on overseas development. Instead, he”™s invested nearly $1 billion of his family”™s money into Las Vegas Sands to stave off bankruptcy.

Loser #4 Mukesh Ambani LOSS: $28.2 billion

Mukesh Ambani overtook Lakshmi Mittal as India”™s richest person this year. Ambani saw his net worth drop by $28.2 billion in 2008, but still lost less than Mittal. Ambani controls Reliance Industries and is the brother of Anil Ambani, head of DreamWorks backer Reliance Communications. Anil”™s 2008 loss: $32.5 billlion.

Loser #5 Warren Buffett LOSS: $13.6 billion

Warren Buffett has, in many ways, been one of the heroes of the financial meltdown, saving everyone from Goldman Sachs to GE. But even the Oracle of Omaha is not immune to stock losses. After his net worth increased by $8 billion during September, he lost $5.29 billion in October thanks to Berkshire Hathaway”™s plunging stock price. For the year as a whole, Warren”™s paper wealth is down by $13.6 billion, leaving him with only $48.1 billion. Tough times in Omaha.

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