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A surge in Amazon.com Inc. shares Thursday morning in advance of the online retailer’s earnings report has propelled founder Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world’s richest person.

Shares of the online retailer rose 1.3 percent to $1,065.92 at 10:10 a.m. in New York, giving Bezos a net worth of $90.9 billion, versus $90.7 billion for Gates. If that holds through the 4 p.m. close, Bezos, 53, will leapfrog Gates, the Microsoft Corp.

Co-founder, on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Gates, 61, has held the top spot since May 2013.

Investors and analysts, in addition to watching Amazon’s progress in taking market share in categories such as apparel and groceries, will be scrutinizing how many new subscriptions the retailer sold for its $99-a-year Amazon Prime service, which offers delivery discounts and video and music streaming. Prime shoppers spend more than customers who don’t have a membership.

“Amazon Prime is why so much physical retail is going away,” said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst who has a buy rating on the stock and a price target of $1,250. “Anyone who joins Prime shops in retail stores 10 percent less, and that number will keep accelerating as Amazon adds more inventory.”

Investors also monitor Amazon’s cloud-computing division, Amazon Web Services, a fast-growing and profitable business that accounts for about 10 percent of revenue.

Amazon leads the cloud-computing industry, but faces increasing competition from Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet Inc.

Amazon is expected to post quarterly revenue of $37.2 billion, a 22 percent jump from a year earlier, according to the average estimate of 34 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and earnings per share of $1.42.

Meanwhile, Facebook Inc.’s intraday gains have helped pull co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, 33, within $200 million of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett, 86, who’s currently ranked fourth on the Bloomberg index with a net worth of $74.5 billion.

Bezos owns about 17 percent of Seattle-based Amazon, which has surged 40 percent this year through Wednesday, helping to add $24.5 billion to his net worth.

He started 2017 as the world’s fourth-wealthiest person and has since surpassed Buffett and Inditex SA founder Amancio Ortega, 81, who ranks third with $82.7 billion.

BIG STORY

BREAKING: I Remain Lagos Police Commissioner, It’s A New Order From Abuja – Edgal Imohimi Declares

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Edgal Imohimi, has declared that he remains the Lagos State Commissioner of Police.

Imohimi told members of the press on Tuesday during a handover-takeover ceremony between him and supposed incoming CP, Kayode Egbetokun, that they were about concluding the process when a directive came from Abuja asking them to suspend the action.

Imohimi, who addressed journalists in the presence of Egbetokun at the Lagos State Police Command’s headquarters, said, “I am sure that you know Mr Kayode Egbetokun, he is an old timer in the command.

“You all know that our first job is about order and direction; we were about concluding the handing and taking over procedure when we were instructed by our bosses from Abuja to suspend action for now. So, there will be no change of guard for now. Of course, we would keep the press briefed about any development.

“But I am happy, humbled that you find it serious enough for you all to come to witness what we are doing here. I consider it an honor.”

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BIG STORY

JUST IN: Buhari Formally Names Mohammed Adamu New IGP, Decorates Him In Aso Rock [PHOTOS]

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President Muhammadu Buhari has officially named Mohammed Adamu as acting Inspector-General of Police, IGP.

Buhari decorated him with the new rank during his meeting with the outgoing Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris and Adamu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Mohammed had served as the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State.

He was one-time director of peacekeeping operations of the Force.

He had been the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone Five, in Benin, Edo State.

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BIG STORY

EFCC Nabs Bishop Defrauding People In God’s Name

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Benin Zonal Office has arrested a Bishop and suspected fraudster, Giniko Obi, for allegedly defrauding thousands of people of millions of naira, in the guise of helping them “fight poverty”.

Obi, founder of Beloved Gideon Foundation, based in Agbor, Delta State, with outreaches in Bayelsa, Onitsha, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Benin City, however, denied any involvement in fraud claiming that he was only “doing the will of God by trying to help the people fight poverty”.

According to him, it was his desire and God’s will to see people prosper that led him into operating what appears to be a Ponzi Scheme. Obi who claim to be a consecrated Bishop, possessing a diploma in theology explains thus:

“We write books such as ‘24 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘36 Nuggets for Successful Living’, ‘48 Nuggets for Successful Living’. We organise seminars and conferences on how to be successful. We tell the people to subscribe to these publications. If you subscribe with N10, 800, we give you N15, 000. If you subscribe with N18, 000, we give you N23, 000. I had about 30,000 subscribers and I was paying them”.

According to him, when he left Agbor for Lagos, his desire was to expand his subscription base but his subscribers were impatient.

“If they allowed me to hold the conference in Lagos, I would have paid them,” he claimed.

However, some of his victims who have continued to throng the EFCC office, since his arrest, described him as a “fraud”.

One of them, Janet Amaka Okafor, said the Bishop sold a dummy to them by claiming that he was from the famous Gideons International, based in the United States.

She said: “He organised seminars in Agbor market that he was from Gideons International and that their mission was to help eradicate poverty in Nigeria.

“He told us that unlike in the past when Gideons International distributed Bibles and Christian literatures, their mission now was to eradicate poverty”.

On how she became a victim of the scheme, Okafor, 35, who claims she has never participated in any Ponzi scheme in the past said she fell for his tricks because the “Bishop” swore with the Bible.

“The Bishop knelt down and swore with the Bible. He convinced us that he was from Texas, USA and we believed him. I subscribed with N10, 800 and he paid me N15, 000. It was after this that he engaged over 60 of us as canvassers. I brought many people including my relations and friends. All together, they invested over N5 million”.

Another victim, Bessie Nwadibire, 67, said the Bishop was very deceptive from the beginning.

“When he came to the market he gave out drinks and dashed some people money as much as N50, 000 as he said the poverty rate in Nigeria was too high,” Nwadibire said, praying and hoping that the Bishop will be made to refund her money.

Expressing gratitude that the EFCC has arrested the Bishop, she said, “Before he was arrested, we went into hiding, because all the people who invested their money into the business through me have threatened to kill me unless I refund their money. The money is over N8, 000, 000 (Eight Million Naira) only”.

The same tale of woes has become the lot of Wisdom Aderemor Okpuzor, a civil servant based in Agbor.

Okpuzor who said she had to flee her home for fear of being attacked described the Bishop as “callous and evil”.

The suspect will soon be arraigned in court. (NAN)

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