Zuckerberg’s Wealth Surges By US$28b As Meta Rallies

Meta Platforms Inc is back, and so is Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune.

The Facebook co-founder’s net worth surged by US$28.1 billion (RM132.56 billion) after Meta’s quarterly results far exceeded Wall Street’s expectations, sending its shares up about 20%. He is now worth US$170.5 billion, the richest he’s ever been, and surpassed Bill Gates to move into the fourth spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

It’s a big comeback for Zuckerberg’s wealth, which fell below US$35 billion in late 2022 as tech stocks collapsed in the face of inflation and interest rate hikes, only to come soaring back in 2023.

The upbeat results will benefit Zuckerberg in other ways, too: He stands to receive a payout of about US$700 million a year from the social media giant’s first-ever dividend for investors.

Meta announced a quarterly cash dividend of 50 cents a share for Class A and B common stock beginning in March. With Zuckerberg holding about 350 million shares, he would take home about US$175 million in each quarterly payment before taxes, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Meta’s move to pay a dividend sends a signal about the company’s view of its growth potential. Often, faster-growing tech companies eschew dividends in favour of using earnings to develop new products or make expensive acquisitions. While Meta is spending big on artificial intelligence initiatives, its acquisition prospects are dwindling in the face of regulatory opposition.

After Meta fired about 21,000 people and narrowed its priorities, the stock almost tripled in 2023. The new dividend and an additional US$50 billion in share buy-backs may win more patience from investors with Zuckerberg’s long-term bets on artificial intelligence and the metaverse.

Zuckerberg took home US$27.1 million in total compensation in 2022, including private security costs and a base salary of US$1, according to filings. Meta hasn’t yet reported executive compensation for last year.

A spokesperson for the company declined to comment. – Bloomberg

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