Billionaires see fortunes rise by more than a quarter during the coronavirus pandemic

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos is the richest person on the planet.

The world's billionaires have done "extremely well" during the coronavirus pandemic as their fortunes hit a record high of $10.2tn (£7.9tn).

The new figures are up from the previous peak of $8.9tn, a rise of 27.5% since 2017 and was largely due to rising global share prices.

The report published by the Swiss bank UBS said the number of billionaires had reached 2,189 up from 2,158 in 2017.

Billionaires with links to the industry sector saw their wealth grow by a staggering 44% between May and July.

Even those connected to the hard-hit entertainment industry saw their wealth grow by 20% in the same period.

In cash terms, tech billionaires saw their wealth grow the most by $565.7bn, a 41.1% increase in the three months up to the end of July.



The world's richest person, Jeff Bezos, has seen his wealth soar to $175.3bn during the pandemic as Amazon profited from a surge in orders during global lockdowns.

Stock markets across the world, and particularly in the US, have been growing rapidly after an initial crash at the start of the pandemic, despite record recessions hitting most global economies.

As the pandemic changes the economy technology and healthcare companies have seen their values soar, inflating the wealth of their owners massively.

Despite record job losses and signs of a long recession markets have been reassured by the gigantic interventions national governments have launched to support their economies.

UBS pointed out many billionaires had donated large sums to help fight the pandemic and support communities.

It said: "Many billionaires have acted to respond to the pandemic. They have reacted quickly, in a way that’s akin to disaster relief, providing unrestricted grants to allow grantees to decide how best to use funds."

They identified 209 billionaires who had donated $7.2bn from March to June 2020, still a tiny fraction of their overall wealth.

Jim Ratcliffe is the UK's richest person worth around $18.2bn Credit: PA

Donations by British billionaires was the lowest in the list of the top five, behind the US, China, India and Australia.

Jim Ratcliffe, the UK's richest person and director of the chemical engineering firm INEOS directed his company to produce free hand sanitiser for the NHS at the start of the pandemic.

An Italian billionaire told the report: “This Covid-19 crisis could be the real border between the old and the new economy."

Josef Stadler, head the UBS Global Family Office that deals with extremely wealthy customers, said the pandemic "is a key moment in economic history."He said: "We have seen before how a cohort of billionaire innovators and disruptors, active in tech, healthcare and industry, have contributed to reshaping the economy."

The UK economy has suffered heavily from the pandemic with thousands of job losses already confirmed and with many more expected when the government stops the furlough scheme at the end of October.

Pub giant Greene King announced it would be closing 25 pubs and cutting 800 jobs on Wednesday.

Some 220,000 jobs were lost between May and July in the UK with total job losses caused by the pandemic predicted to be around 730,000 as the aviation, hospitality and retail sectors all slashed staff numbers.