Lift off! Elon Musk becomes world’s 3rd richest man

Lift off! Elon Musk leapfrogs Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to become world’s 3rd richest man

Elon Musk has leapfrogged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to become the third richest man in the world following the latest surge in Tesla’s share price.

The electric car maker run by Musk soared again in value after being selected to join the prestigious S&P 500 index of the biggest listed companies in the US.

The share price shot up as much as 12 per cent to $460 (£347), valuing Tesla at more than £320billion.

The only way is up: Tesla founder Elon Musk has leapfrogged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to become the third richest man in the world

The rally pushed up Musk’s personal fortune by £6billion, lifting it to £82billion.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, this moves the 49-year-old tycoon to third place in its league table of the world’s richest people, above Zuckerberg’s fortune of £80billion.

It means only Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, with £139billion to his name, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, with £97billion, are now ahead of him in the pecking order.

Even by his standards, Musk has had an incredible year, with his fortune expanding by almost £70billion.

The South African-born billionaire owns a 20 per cent stake in Tesla, which has seen its share price rise more than fivefold so far this year.

But a bonus deal could further swell his coffers, pushing him above Gates on the rich list. He is line for a record bonus of £41.5billion under a pay scheme linked to the share price.

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To qualify for the maximum payout, Musk needs to build Tesla into a £490billion company by 2028.

As it stands, Tesla is already the most valuable car maker in the world, despite making a fraction of the number of vehicles that are churned out by more established manufacturers such as General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota.

With Tesla set to join the S&P 500 on December 21, another of Musk’s companies achieved a significant milestone this week. 

On Monday, four astronauts from his space exploration company Space X managed to dock the Crew Dragon capsule in the International Space Station, after hitching a lift on the Falcon rocket.

Space X was fulfilling its first commercial contract with the US space agency Nasa.