The World’s Billionaires 2012

By Luisa Kroll and Kerry A. Dolan | Forbes – 14 hours ago

Record Numbers, Record Wealth: 128 new billionaires made their debut this year, while 117 dropped out of the ranks. The net result is a record 1,226 billionaires, including the creators of Spanx, Under Armour and 5-Hour Energy.

A quarter century ago Forbes published our first annual list of the World’s Billionaires—and we found 140. This year the list broke records for the most number of billionaires (1,226) and combined net worth, at $4.6 trillion, up from $4.5 trillion. Behind those numbers is a more complicated story of rapid change among the world’s wealthiest. Innovation, strong consumer brands and a rebounding U.S. stock market helped produce 128 newcomers and brought 17 former members back into the ranks, while falling stock markets, particularly in China and Russia, were the main culprit for knocking 117 billionaires off the list. Another 12 members from the 2011 list passed away, including buyout titan Teddy Forstmann and Apple’s Steve Jobs, whose wife Laurene Powell Jobs takes his spot. Overall, 460 billionaires got richer, 441 got poorer and another 180 held steady.

There are now billionaires from 58 countries. The U.S. is still home to more billionaires than any other country, with 425, a gain of 12. Mainland China and Russia were both clobbered. They have 95 and 96, respectively, down from 115 and 101 last year. The BRIC nations, which were such a force of wealth creation a year ago, have 26 fewer ten-figure fortunes, with only Brazil adding to its bounty.

[Also from Forbes.com: Full Gallery: The World’s Billionaires]

Carlos Slim Helú of Mexico tops the ranks for the third year in a row, but the gap between him and Bill Gates is tightening again. His fortune, at $69 billion, is down $5 billion from a year ago. He was one of 7 in the top 20 whose fortunes slipped, including Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison.

Meanwhile Gates, whose foundation helped wipe out polio in India, was $5 billion richer at $61 billion as Microsoft shares hit a ten-year high. Amancio Ortega, the man behind fast fashion chain Zara, moved into the top 5 for the first time, despite having stepped down as chairman the previous year. India’s Lakshmi Mittal, who runs the world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, was the year’s biggest loser. His fortune plummeted by $10.4 billion, knocking him out of the top 10 for the

he may be worth far more once Facebook goes public this spring. valuing individuals' public holdings. is the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire. not the least of which is using a popular brand to cater to a world full of consumers. In April the company was fined $1 billion by Mexican regulators for monopolistic practices but is appealing the decision. founder of trendy sportswear maker Under Armour.S. In a sign that great fortunes can come from almost anywhere. Blakely. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is worth $17. 14. 21. only 3 of the top 10 richest hail from the U.. and 5-Hour Energy’s Manoj Bhargava. Slim is . private companies. There are lots of ingenious ways to make fortunes. who came from Pakistan when he was 16 and is the first minority immigrant owner of an NFL team. up $4 billion from a year ago. real estate. Another notable woman in the ranks is Miuccia Prada.5 billion. 41.first time since 2004. Two American immigrants to make their debut are the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Shahid Khan. one fewer than last year. who returns to the list after a six-year absence. The World’s Top 10 Billionaires REUTERS/ Stringer1. Notable newcomers with stellar brands include Kevin Plank. yachts. who emigrated as a boy from India. A note on methodology: More than 50 reporters in 16 countries worked on compiling the list this year. which accounts for more than half his net worth. Net worths were locked in using stock prices and exchange rates from Feb. He is ranked No. with her Spanx line of newfangled girdles. and Sara Blakely. Name: Carlos Slim Helú and family Net Worth: $69 billion (DOWN) Source: Telecom Citizenship: Mexico Carlos Slim Helú retains the title of world's richest man for the third year in a row despite a fortune that's $5 billion smaller than a year ago—primarily because of a lower share price for telecom giant America Movil. art and cash.

Name: Bill Gates Net Worth: $61 billion (UP) Source: Microsoft Citizenship: USA First part of mission accomplished: The most generous person on the planet (he’s given away $28 billion already) has helped eradicate polio in India. [Also from Forbes. In January the country announced its first poliofree year.com: The World’s Billionaire Women] AP Photo/Richard Drew3. bonds and stocks such as Ecolab and Mexican broadcaster Televisa. Danielle Smith/The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media via Getty …2. Afghanistan and Nigeria. His foundation has committed more than $2 billion to small farmers. which is up $5 billion. Less than onefourth of his net worth is still held in Microsoft.spending more time working with his Carlos Slim Foundation and the Telmex Foundation than he has in the past. He also has a new endeavor in the works: fixing agriculture. Gates will continue to chip in $200 million a year to rid the world of a disease that is still endemic in Pakistan. whose shares are trading higher than they’ve been in 10 years and helped boost his fortune. His goal: philanthropic work that develops human capacity. Name: Warren Buffett Net Worth: $44 billion (DOWN) Source: Berkshire Hathaway Citizenship: USA . The rest is in private equity.

but he wouldn’t give a name. Louis Vuitton. the Bulgari family transferred its majority stake in its eponymous brand to LVMH in exchange for shares and seats on LVMH's board. Heng Long. as Europe. Arnault hasn’t done as well with his more pedestrian investment in supermarket chain Carrefour. including being ―dead wrong‖ about a housing comeback. LVMH. Howard.000 a week) and ski chalet Cheval Blanc in Courchevel. Indigo Island in the Bahamas (rent: $300. Sales were up 16%. Name: Bernard Arnault Net Worth: $41 billion (EQUAL) Source: LVMH Citizenship: France The world’s ultimate arbiter of good taste and Europe’s richest person once again. LVMH acquired a 20% stake in Hermes. Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images4.‖ New Senate legislation requiring the rich to pay at least a 30% tax rate has been dubbed the ―Buffett Rule‖ in homage to the billionaire’s frequent public statements that the wealthiest should pay more than the average Joe. In December he chose his farmer son. Asia and the United States all did well. His net worth is down $6 billion year on year because of a 7% slump in Berkshire’s stock.Who will replace the Oracle of Omaha at the helm of Berkshire Hathaway? Buffett announced in February he’d finally made the decision. In his latest annual letter he confessed to some mistakes. Arnault orchestrated another stellar year at his luxury-goods empire. second. in particular. The group also formed a JV with one of the world’s leading tanneries of crocodile leather. . as the future nonexecutive chairman and ―guardian of the firm’s values. Arnault called 2011 ―another great vintage. Among his personal high-end collection: He owns yacht builder Royal Van Lent.‖ LVMH extended ties to two major brands: first. thrived. which is worth $1 billion less than it was a year ago.

With then-wife Rosalia Mera. [Also from Forbes. It’s rebounded since its August low but is still off 15% year on year due to a slowdown in the software and hardware giant’s sales. Name: Larry Ellison Net Worth: $36 billion (DOWN) Source: Oracle Citizenship: USA Oracle’s stock has been oscillating for months. a 43-story skyscraper in Madrid. Oracle acquired Taleo in . Inditex. He also owns Epic Residences & Hotel. in July 2011. but the company hasn’t missed a beat. a luxury 54-story waterfront condo and hotel development in Miami. His daughter Marta.5 billion (UP) Source: Zara Citizenship: Spain Ortega stepped down as chairman of his global fashion firm. Name: Amancio Ortega Net Worth: $37.Javier Rodriguez El Pais Photos/Newscom5.5 billion and pushing him into the global top 5 ranks for the first time. enough to knock $3. helping boost his fortune by $6. A railway worker's son. he started as a gofer in a shirt store. Ortega paid $536 million to billionaire Esther Koplowitz in December for Torre Picasso. he started making dressing gowns and lingerie in his living room. married Spanish equestrian star Sergio Alvarez Moya in February.com: The World’s Billionaire Newcomers] Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom6. who works for Inditex.5 billion off Ellison’s fortune. Seeking to profit from cloud computing. also a billionaire. Other personal holdings include a stake in a soccer league and a horse-jumping circuit. Shares are up one fourth in the past year.

Ellison has been tagged as one of the clutch of billionaires interested in buying the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. gold: In February 2011 he spent $1. It now has 2. Singapore and Romania.5 billion. bought 5 million additional shares of the company and then gifted 4 . The bombastic entrepreneur is also betting on his former passion. his 61% stake in the company is worth $19.5 billion to take private Canadian-listed Ventana Gold. Name: Stefan Persson Net Worth: $26 billion (UP) Source: H&M Citizenship: Sweden His cheap-chic apparel chain H&M added Versace and Marni to its stable of designers last year and opened its first stores in Croatia. oil Citizenship: Brazil Brazil’s richest man is riding high on oil fever.February for $1. Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images7.500 shops in 43 countries. Persson. His oil and gas driller. Name: Eike Batista Net Worth: $30 billion (EQUAL) Source: Mining. His big sport is yachting: he won the America's Cup in 2010 and is bringing the 34th edition of the America’s Cup Finals to the San Francisco Bay in 2013. produced its first oil in a test well offshore in late January.9 billion and RightNow in October for $1. which owns what he says is an incredibly promising mine in Colombia. imago stock&people/Newscom8. who is chairman.8 billiontwo-thirds of his net worth. This will be the first time the event has been held in the United States in 18 years. OGX Petroleo e Gas.

including 1. To keep costs low.500 stores.7 million.6 billion to date. Li also has personal investments in tech startups like Facebook and Spotify. He and his late brother Theo built their mother's corner grocery store into Aldi after World War II. one in Queens and another in the Bronx. Aldi Sud. states. has some 4. largely to education and medical research.S. One of the great empire builders.5 million people in England and sewerage services to another 2. Li Ka-shing moves back into the top 10 for the first time since 2007 and reclaims the title of Asia’s richest for the first time since 2004. worth $150 million. It opened its first New York City locations in 2011. Lui Siu Wai/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom9. Name: Karl Albrecht Net Worth: $25. Name: Li Ka-shing Net Worth: $25. to a new employeeincentive program.million. They split . his foundation has donated more than $1.5 billion (DOWN) Source: diversified Citizenship: Hong Kong Despite a small drop in fortune.000 people around the world in 53 countries.4 billion (DOWN) Source: Aldi Citizenship: Germany His $39 billion (estimated sales) discount supermarket giant. Aldi stores do not accept credit cards. Says the octogenarian: ―A person investing in technology will feel younger.‖ One of Asia’s most generous. Li’s businesses employ 270.200 across 32 U. [Related: Cool homes of fashion leaders] 10. and his recently acquired Northumbrian Water supplies clean drinking water to 4. he built one out of every 7 residences in Hong Kong. his Hutchison Port Holdings handles about 13% of the world’s container traffic.

K. Karl took the more profitable stores in southern Germany. Theo got northern Germany and the rest of Europe. Australia and the U.ownership in 1961. .S.. plus the rights to the brand in the U.

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