Gates Regains Top Spot on Forbes List as Billionaires Dwindle

March 11 (Bloomberg) — Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates regained the title of world’s richest person on Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of billionaires worldwide, as the global recession slashed the size of the list by 30 percent.

The number of billionaires fell to 793 from 1,125 last year. It was the first time since 2003 that the number of people on the list decreased, and the biggest drop since the magazine began the ranking 23 years ago.

The total net worth of the list fell to $2.4 trillion from $4.4 trillion last year, with the average billionaire worth $3 billion, down from $3.9 billion. The three wealthiest — Gates, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett and Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim Helu — lost a combined $68 billion in the past year.

“The global economy’s being battered by a financial hurricane that has wrought devastating damage on the world’s financial systems,” Forbes Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Forbes said in a press conference in Manhattan today. “It’s no surprise that billionaires have been battered along with the global economy.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 34 percent last year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slumped 38.5 percent. The worldwide economy may shrink for the first time since World War II, with trade collapsing by the most since the Great Depression, the World Bank said this month.

Gates and Buffett

Gates, 53, had a net worth of $40 billion, down from $58 billion in 2008. Buffett, 78 — who last year ended Gates’s 13- year reign atop the list — returned to second place. His net worth dropped to $37 billion from $62 billion.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, fell 34 percent in the year ending Feb. 13, the list deadline. The Class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway, based in Omaha, Nebraska, dropped 39 percent in the same period.

Slim, 69, who controls Telefonos de Mexico SAB, fell to third from second as his net worth dropped to $35 billion from $60 billion. Larry Ellison, 64, chief executive of Redwood City, California-based software maker Oracle Corp., rose to fourth from 14th, even though his net worth dropped to $22.5 billion from $25 billion.

The net worth of 656 billionaires on the list fell from a year earlier. Only 44 gained, including Brazil’s richest man, Eike Batista, 52, who jumped to 61st from 142nd as his fortune rose to $7.5 billion from $6.6 billion, and hedge fund manager John Paulson, 53, who climbed to 76th from 368th after his net worth doubled to $6 billion.

Ambani’s Losses

This year’s biggest loser was last year’s biggest gainer. The net worth of India’s Anil Ambani, 49, declined by $31.9 billion to $10.1 billion, still good enough for 34th place. In last year’s ranking, his fortune had increased by $24 billion.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 67, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, was the only billionaire among the top 20 to gain wealth, with his net worth rising to $16 billion from $11.5 billion, boosting his ranking to 17th from 65th, the magazine said.

The ranking includes citizens of 52 countries and one principality. The U.S. had the most billionaires on the list, with 359, down from 469 last year. Europe had 196, Asia-Pacific had 130, the Middle East and Africa 58, and the Americas outside the U.S. had 50.

India lost more than half of its billionaires, while Russia lost two-thirds. New York City now boasts the most billionaire residents, with 55, replacing Moscow, which came in third, behind London. The number of Americans in the top 20 rose to 10 from four last year.

New Billionaires

The number of new billionaires fell to 38 from 226 last year, with the newcomers including John Paul DeJoria, 65, the chairman of John Paul Mitchell Systems hair-care company and co- founder of tequila maker Patron Spirits Co., ranked 261st with $2.5 billion.

About 64 percent are described as self-made, meaning they didn’t inherit their money. There are 72 women on the list, down from 99 last year, led by Alice Walton, 59, and 54-year-old Christy Walton and her family. The women, of the family that controls Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, were tied for 12th with $17.6 billion.

There were 355 people who dropped off the list, including former Citigroup Inc. Chairman Sanford “Sandy” Weill, 75, and the two youngest members last year — Mark Zuckerberg, 24, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., the world’s largest social- networking site; and Hind Hariri, daughter of assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The average age rose to 63.7 years from 61 last year, in part because of the losses in Russia and China, where the average age of billionaires last year was in the 40s. The youngest is Germany’s Albert von Thurn und Taxis, 25, ranked 318th with a net worth of $2.1 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net.


so zuckerberg drops from the list but pretty sure he’s still damn rich and he’s just 24. and youngest this year is this deustch Albert von Thurn. who is this guy? i googled and found out that he’s the 12th Prince of Thurn and Taxis. from what i read, this is a family heritage from 12th century. go on and google him.. this is the richest people as listed on forbes. will i one day be listed here? but being like zuckerberg is best of all. he’s just a genius and talented guy.. superb.. this article is from Bloomberg.

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