Spain's Amancio Ortega, the owner of the Zara chain of fashion stores, has become the third richest person in the world with a fortune of $46.6 billion (38 billion euros), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Ortega, 76, has increased his fortune this year by 32 percent despite the recession in Spain.

The Spanish businessman passed U.S. investor Warren Buffett, whose fortune was tallied at $45.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Index.

Bloomberg emphasizes the unstoppable rise in Ortega's wealth, a circumstance that has been especially due to his successful operations in China and other emerging markets.

"Buffett's holdings have done well recently, but not all of them," said Walter "Bucky" Hellwig of BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama. Ortega "has a more concentrated holding, and that implies more risk. You may have these fits and starts between them going forward."

Ortega's fortune is $27.6 billion behind that of Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, the world's richest person.

No. 2 on the list is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose fortune is calculated to be $63 billion.

The founder of retailer Inditex SA, the parent company for Zara, which has more than 3,000 stores worldwide, on June 13 became the richest European when he surpassed Sweden's Ingvar Kamprad, the owner of Ikea.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index is updated on a daily basis. EFE