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Worlds Top 20 Billionaires

Worlds Top 20 Billionaires

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Published by: rajuliza on Dec 18, 2009
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02/01/2012

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It's been a tough year for the richest people in the world. Last year there were 1,125 billionaires.This year there are just 793 people rich enough to make our list.
The world has become a wealth wasteland.Like the rest of us, the richest people in the world have endured a financial disaster over the past year.Today there are 793 people on our list of the World's Billionaires, a 30% decline from a year ago.Of the 1,125 billionaires who made last year's ranking, 373 fell off the list--355 from declining fortunes and18 who died. There are 38 newcomers, plus three moguls who returned to the list after regaining their 10-figure fortunes. It is the first time since 2003 that the world has had a net loss in the number of billionaires.The world's richest are also a lot poorer. Their collective net worth is $2.4 trillion, down $2 trillion from ayear ago. Their average net worth fell 23% to $3 billion. The last time the average was that low was in2003.Bill Gates lost $18 billion but regained his title as the world's richest man. Warren Buffett, last year's No.1, saw his fortune decline $25 billion as shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) fell nearly 50% in 12months, but he still managed to slip just one spot to No. 2. Mexican telecom titan Carlos Slim Helú alsolost $25 billion and dropped one spot to No. 3.It was hard to avoid the carnage, whether you were in stocks, commodities, real estate or technology.Even people running profitable businesses were hammered by frozen credit markets, weak consumer spending or declining currencies.The biggest loser in the world this year, by dollars, was last year's biggest gainer. India's Anil Ambani lost$32 billion--76% of his fortune--as shares of his Reliance Communications, Reliance Power and RelianceCapital all collapsed.Ambani is one of 24 Indian billionaires, all but one of whom are poorer than a year ago. Another 29Indians lost their billionaire status entirely as India's stock market tumbled 44% in the past year and theIndian rupee depreciated 18% against the dollar. It is no longer the top spot in Asia for billionaires, cedingthat title to China, which has 28.Russia became the epicenter of the world's commodities bust, dropping 55 billionaires--two-thirds of its2008 crop. Among them: Dmitry Pumpyansky, an industrialist from the resource-rich Ural mountainregion, who lost $5 billion as shares of his pipe producer, TMK, sank 84%. Also gone is Vasily Anisimov,father of Moscow's Paris Hilton, Anna Anisimova, who lost $3.2 billion as the value of his MetalloinvestHolding, one of Russia's largest ore mining and processing firms, fell along with his real estate holdings.Twelve months ago Moscow overtook New York as the billionaire capital of the world, with 74 tycoons toNew York's 71. Today there are 27 in Moscow and 55 in New York.After slipping in recent years, the U.S. is regaining its dominance as a repository of wealth. Americansaccount for 44% of the money and 45% of the list's slots, up seven and three percentage points from lastyear, respectively. Still, it has 110 fewer billionaires than a year ago.Those with ties to Wall Street were particularly hard hit. Former head of AIG (AIG)Maurice (Hank) Greenberg saw his $1.9 billion fortune nearly wiped out after the insurance behemoth had to be bailed outby the U.S. government. Today Greenberg is worth less than $100 million. Former Citigroup (C)Chairman Sandy Weill also falls from the ranks.Last year there were 39 American billionaire hedge fund managers; this year there are 28. TwelveAmerican private equity tycoons dropped out of the billionaire ranks.Blackstone Group's (BX) Stephen Schwarzman, who lost $4 billion, and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts'Henry Kravis, who lost $2.5 billion, retains their billionaire status despite their weaker fortunes.Worldwide, 80 of the 355 drop-offs from last year's list had fortunes derived from finance or investments.While 656 billionaires lost money in the past year, 44 added to their fortunes. Those who made money didso by catering to budget-conscious consumers (discount retailer Uniqlo's Tadashi Yanai), predicting thecrash (investor John Paulson) or cashing out in the nick of time (Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberte).
 
So is there anywhere one can still make a fortune these days? The 38 newcomers offer a few clues.Among the more notable new billionaires are Mexican Joaquín Guzmán Loera, one of the biggestsuppliers of cocaine to the U.S.; Wang Chuanfu of China, whose BYD Co. began selling electric cars inDecember, and American John Paul Dejoria, who got the world clean with his Paul Mitchell shampoosand sloppy with his Patrón Tequila.
The Top 20 Richest People in the World1. William Gates III
Net Worth: $40 billionSource: Microsoft/U.S.Age: 53Marital Status: Married, three children
Software visionary regains title as the world's richest man despite losing $18 billion in the past 12months.
Stepped down from day-to-day duties at Microsoft last summer to devote his talents and riches tothe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Organization's assets were $30 billion in January; annual letter lauds endowment manager Michael Larson for limiting last year's losses to 20%.
Gates decided to increase donations in 2009 to $3.8 billion, up 15% from 2008.
Dedicated to fighting hunger in developing countries, improving education in America's highschools and developing vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.
Appointed Microsoft Office veteran Jeffrey Raikes chief executive of Gates Foundation inSeptember. Gates remains Microsoft chairman.
Sells shares each quarter, redeploys proceeds via investment vehicle Cascade; more than half of fortune invested outside Microsoft.
Stock down 45% in past 12 months.
"Creative capitalist" wants companies to match profit making with doing well.
2. Warren Buffett
Net Worth: $37 billion
 
Source: Investments/U.S.Age: 78Marital Status: Widowed, remarried; three children
Last year America's most beloved investor was the world's richest man.
This year he has to settle for second place after losing $25 billion in 12 months. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway down 45% since last March.
Injected billions of dollars into Goldman Sachs, General Electric in exchange for preferred stocklast fall; propped up insurance firm Swiss Re in February with $2.6 billion infusion. Admits hemade some "dumb" investment mistakes in 2008.
Upbeat about America's future: "Our economic system has worked extraordinarily well over time.It has unleashed human potential as no other system has, and it will continue to do so."
Scoffs at Wall Street's over-reliance on "history-based" models: "If merely looking up pastfinancial data would tell you what the future holds, the Forbes 400 would consist of librarians."
Son of Nebraska politician delivered newspapers as a boy.
Filed first tax return at age 13, claiming $35 deduction for bicycle.
Studied under value investing Guru Benjamin Graham at Columbia.
Took over textile firm Berkshire Hathaway 1965.
Today holding company invested in insurance (GEICO, General Re), jewelry (Borsheim's),utilities (MidAmerican Energy), food (Dairy Queen, See's Candies). Also has noncontrollingstakes in Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and Wells Fargo.
3. Carlos Slim Helú
Net Worth: $35 billionSource: Telecom/MexicoAge: 69Marital Status: Widowed, six children
Economic downturn and plunging peso shaved $25 billion from the fortune of Latin America'srichest man.
Global recession testing his ability to live up to the principles he sets for his employees: "Maintainausterity in times of fat cows."
Son of a Lebanese immigrant bought fixed-line operator Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) in 1990;now controls 90% of Mexico's telephone landlines.
Would be a billionaire based on his dividends alone.

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