Forbes rich list topped by Mexicanmobile phone titan Carlos SlimAndrew Clark in New York 10 March, 2010
1. Things are changing in the world’s billionaires club. Traditionally dominated by Americans and Europeans, the top ranks of the world’s richest people now include many ultra-rich entrepreneurs from the developing world. At the top of the list is Mexican telecoms tycoon, Carlos Slim. Today, Slim, the titan of mobile phones in Mexico, was crowned as the richest person in the world by American business magazine, Forbes, which calculated his net worth at $53.5bn (£35.7bn). Helped by an increase in the share price of his America Movil empire, Slim’s wealth edged ahead of Microsoft boss Bill Gates’$53bn fortune, making the portly cigar-smoking 70-year-old the first non-American to hold the top spot since 1994.In third place was the legendary Nebraska-based investor Warren Buffett with 47bn.Britain’s top entrant into the global rich list, the Duke of Westminster, could only manage 45th position as his vast landownings gave him a net worth of $12bn.Below the top few individuals, the lower ranks of Forbes’ annual list showed a substantial change in the distribution of wealth. The number of billionaires from Asian and Australasian nations leapt from 130 to 234 last year, with the net worth of the region’s super-rich doubling from $357bn to $729bn.“Asia is leading the omeback,” said Forbes’ editor-in-chief, Steve Forbes. “There are remarkable changes taking place in the global economy.”He pointed out that as the number of billionaires in the world increased from 793 to 1,011, the proportion of Americans dropped from 45 % to 40 %: “The US still dominates but it’s not doing as well as the rest of the world in coming back from the financial crisis.”
2. Asia’s richest man, Indian, Mukesh Ambani, became the fourth-richest person on the planet with $29bn, from his textiles-to-petrol Reliance Industries empire. Pakistan also produced its first billionaire, banking magnate Mian Muhammad Mansha, and the number of Chinese billionaires leapt by 27 to 64.Among those enjoying an increase in fortunes was Robin Li, founder of the Chinese internet search engine, Baidu, whose wealth reached $3.5bn when Google withdrew from China due to censorship concerns. Another Chinese tycoon, property magnate Wu Yajun, has emerged as the world’s richest self-made woman with $3.9bn from her Longfor Properties empire, which includes apartments, town houses, luxury villas and commercial property across China.The increase in the number of super-rich individuals from less affluent nations went beyond Asia. The number of billionaires from Russia almost doubled from 32 to 62. The owner of the London newspaper, Evening Standard, Alexander Lebedev is worth $2bn. And Alisher Usmanov enjoyed a lucrative year at his metals conglomerate with his net worth increasing from $1.7bn to $7.2bn.Turkey saw its number of billionaires grow from 12 to 28. And from South America, a commodities tycoon, Eike Batista, became the first Brazilian to make the world’s top ten for wealth. Batista, 52, a college dropout who made his fortune from gold, oil and diamonds is ranked eighth in the world with $27bn. In British terms, little changed among the ranks of the super-rich. Behind the Duke of Westminster came property developers David and Simon Reuben, the clothing store chain Topshop’s boss Sir Philip Green and Virgin supremo Sir Richard Branson. Two new British names joined the billionaires’ club – financier Alan Howard and China-based property developer Xiu Li Hawken of Renhe Commercia Holdings, who holds British citizenship. For the newly crowned richest person on the planet, topping the rich list cements a rapid rise to global fame. However, he is only top thanks to the generosity of a rival – if Bill Gates had not chosen to hand a huge chunk of his wealth to his Gates Foundation to fight disease in the developing world, the software supremo would be worth as much as $80bn.
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