Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has topped Microsoft founder Bill Gates to become the world’s second richest man after a meteoric rise in his personal fortune.
Mr Musk’s net worth jumped by $7.2bn (£5.4bn) to $128bn after shares in his car firm Tesla surged.
Only Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is richer, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
It comes after news Tesla shares will be added to the S&P 500, one of the main share indexes in the US.
That triggered a fresh wave of buying of the electric carmaker’s shares, sending the company’s market value above $500bn and boosting the value of Mr Musk’s holding in the business.
Tesla is already the most valuable car firm in the world, despite producing a fraction of the vehicles of rivals such as Toyota, VW and General Motors.
On Tuesday, in a speech in Germany, Mr Musk said it could “make sense” for Tesla to expand in Europe by entering the mass-market segment with a small car.
“In the US, the cars tend to be bigger for personal taste reasons,” he said. “In Europe, (they) tend to be smaller.”
And after years of losses, Tesla has seen five consecutive quarters of profit as sales of its cars perform well despite the pandemic.
The California-based firm will be the biggest new entrant on the S&P 500, with a market value of more than $500bn.
It means investment funds tracking the index will automatically hold its stock and benefit from gains in its share price – news that has excited investors.
Gates and Bezos
Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, was the world’s richest person for years before Mr Bezos knocked him off the top spot in 2017.
Mr Gates’s fortune is worth $127.7bn but would be higher had he not donated large sums to charity over the decades.
Jeff Bezos’s net worth is estimated at £182bn by Bloomberg. He too has seen his personal fortune rise this year as demand for Amazon’s services climbed in the pandemic.
Mr Musk, who regularly courts controversy, has had an eventful past few weeks.
Last weekend he tweeted that he “most likely” had a moderate case of Covid-19 and has had symptoms of “a minor cold.”
It came the day before four astronauts were launched to the International Space Station in a rocket built by Mr Musk’s SpaceX.
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