The British voters’ decision to leave the European Union caused profound ripples in all major global equity markets.
The Brexit vote has sent European markets into the steepest decline since 2008. The pound plummeted to a record low, not seen since Margaret Thatcher was prime minister some 30 years ago.
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index says billionaires lost 3.2 percent of their total net worth, now estimated at $3.9 trillion.
The worst losses among European billionaires were suffered by Amancio Ortega, Europe’s richest person, who hemorrhaged $6 billion. Many other mega rich individuals took a massive hit, including Bill Gates and Amazon magnate Jeff Bezos, who lost over $1 billion each.
Britain’s wealthiest person Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor dropped more than $1 billion. However, for the UK’s wealthiest Brexit was surprisingly less devastating than for others in the billionaire class. Altogether, Britain’s 15 richest people lost “only” $5.5 billion.
British co-founder of stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, Peter Hargreaves, lost the most, seeing his fortune shrink by 19 percent to US$2.9 billion.
In a major irony, Hargreaves was the largest donor to the Leave campaign, donating £3.2 million, according to the UK’s Electoral Commission.
Hargreaves has shown no regret, and says he is ready to work with the British government to shape the nation’s economic future once the country stops being an EU member state.
“I have enormous experience of business, enormous experience of negotiation, enormous experience of economics, and I’m one of Britain’s most successful businessmen,” Hargreaves said. “If they don’t involve me, they’re crazy.”
Richard Branson, a vocal advocate of the UK staying with the EU, has made peace with the decision of the majority, stressing that the British people’s “determination, resolve and sense of what is right” would be necessary “over the testing months and years to come.”
The richest person in South Africa, Christo Wiese, who has vast investments in the UK economy, believes the current crisis doesn’t mean the end of the EU.
“I think it’s the end of [the] EU as it’s currently structured,” the Stuff cited Wiese as saying. “It’s always had unattractive features alongside its attractive features. This will make people sit up and say how can we make it better,” Wiese said.