Mexican Carlos Slim worlds richest
NEW YORK : Riding surging prices of his various telecom holdings, including giant mobile outfit America Movil, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has beaten out Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to become the wealthiest person on earth and nab the top spot on the 2010 Forbes list of the World’s Billionaires.
Slim’s fortune has swelled to an estimated $53.5 billion, up $18.5 billion in 12 months. Shares of America Movil, of which Slim owns a $23 billion stake, were up by 35 per cent in a year.
That massive hoard of scratch puts him ahead of Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, who had held the title of world’s richest 14 of the past 15 years.
Gates, now worth $53 billion, is ranked second in the world. He is up $13 billion from a year ago as shares of Microsoft rose by 50 per cent in 12 months. Gates’ holdings in his personal investment vehicle Cascade also soared with the rest of the markets.
Buffett’s fortune jumped $10 billion to $47 billion on rising shares of Berkshire Hathaway. He ranks third.
The Oracle of Omaha shrewdly invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs and $3 billion in General Electric amid the 2008 market collapse. He also recently acquired railroad giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $26 billion.
In his annual shareholder letter Buffett wrote, “We’ve put a lot of money to work during the chaos of the last two years. When it’s raining gold, reach for a bucket, not a thimble.”
Many plutocrats did just that. Indeed, last year’s wealth wasteland has become a billionaire bonanza. Most of the richest people on the planet have seen their fortunes soar in the past year.
This year the World’s Billionaires have an average net worth of $3.5 billion, up $500 million in 12 months. The world has 1,011 10-figure titans, up from 793 a year ago but still shy of the record 1,125 in 2008. Of those billionaires on last year’s list, only 12 per cent saw their fortunes decline.
US billionaires still dominate the ranks - but their grip is slipping. Americans account for 40 per cent of the world’s billionaires, down from 45 per cent a year ago.
The US commands 38 per cent of the collective $3.6 trillion net worth of the world’s richest, down from 44 per cent a year ago.
Of the 97 new members of the list, only 16 per cent are from the US. By contrast, Asia made big gains. The region added 104 moguls and now has just 14 fewer than Europe, thanks to several large public offerings and swelling stock markets.
The new billionaires include American Isaac
Perlmutter, who flipped Marvel Entertainment
to Disney for $4 billion last December.
The Spider-Man mogul netted nearly $900 million in cash and 20 million shares of Disney in the transaction. Also new to the ranking: 27 billionaires from China, including Li Shufu, whose automaker, Geely, announced plans to buy Swedish Volvo from Ford in December. The deal is expected to close in March 2010. Finland and Pakistan both welcomed their first billionaires.
For the first time China (including Hong Kong) has the most billionaires outside the US with 89.