Crisis what crisis? Portugal’s richest get richer

Crisis what crisis? Portugal’s richest get richer

LISBON - Portugal may be mired in a debt crisis, but its 25 richest people got 16 per cent wealthier in 2013, with fortunes equivalent to nearly 10 per cent of the country's GDP, rankings published Thursday showed.

The 25 now have a combined wealth of 16.7 billion euros (S$28.5 billion), according to the data published by Exame magazine.

"Even at the time of crisis, the major fortunes continue to grow," said the Portuguese magazine, which said that the gains came mainly from stock market earnings amid slowing industrial activity.

The country's richest man is 79-year-old businessman Americo Amorim, whose fortune more than doubled in a year to 4.5 billion euros, as shares of his eponymous firm - the world's biggest cork producer - soared.

Food distribution tycoon Alexandre Soares dos Santos, also 79, is now in second place with 2.2 billion euros in assets, while the Guimaraes de Mello family occupied third place with 1.7 billion euros.

Portugal crawled out of recession in the third quarter with a fragile growth of 0.2 per cent.

The country was forced to seek a 78-billion-euro bail out from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union as the state failed to rein in its runaway public debt.

Since the rescue, Lisbon has enacted a series of austerity measures including painful job, pension and salary cuts, sparking mass street protests.

Official data showed that 17.9 per cent of the population was at risk of poverty in 2011.

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