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Forbes Magazine has just published their annual list of the world’s richest people, and for the first time in 14 years, Bill Gates has been dethroned from the top spot. The throne is now occupied by Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, with a net worth of $53.5 billion. Helu, who owns various telecom holdings, including giant mobile outfit America Movil (AMX), saw his wealth surge by $18 billion in the past one year.
The entire Forbes list is given below:

The Top 20 Billionaires in the World

Helu
AP Photo

1) Carlos Slim Helu

Net Worth: $53.5 billion

Source: Telecom

Residence: Mexico

• Telecom tycoon who pounced on privatization of Mexico’s national telephone company in the 1990s becomes world’s richest person for first time after coming in third place last year. Net worth up $18.5 billion in a year.

• Recently received regulatory approval to merge his fixed-line assets into American Movil, Latin America’s biggest mobile phone company.

• His construction conglomerate, Impulsora del Desarrollo y el Empleo, builds roads and energy infrastructure.

• Son of a Lebanese immigrant also owns stakes in financial group Inbursa, Bronco Drilling, Independent News & Media, Saks and New York Times Co.

• Newspaper outfit’s stock popped in early March on talk he might buy a controlling stake; he denies the rumor.

• Donating $65 million to fund a research project in genomic medicine with American billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad.

Gates
AP Photo

2) Bill Gates

Net Worth: $53 billion

Source: Microsoft

Residence: U.S.

• Software visionary is now the world’s second-richest man. Net worth still up $13 billion in a year as Microsoft shares rose 50% in 12 months, value of investment vehicle Cascade swelled.

• More than 60% of fortune held outside Microsoft; investments include Four Seasons hotels, Televisa, Auto Nation.

• Stepped down from day-to-day duties at Microsoft in 2008 to focus on philanthropy.

• Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation dedicated to fighting hunger, improving education in America’s high schools, developing vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.

Buffett
AP Photo

3) Warren Buffett

Net Worth: $47 billion

Source: Investments

Residence: U.S.

• America’s favorite investor up $10 billion in past 12 months on surging Berkshire Hathaway shares; says U.S. has survived economic “Pearl Harbor,” but warns recovery will be slow.

• Shrewdly invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs and $3 billion in General Electric amid 2008 market collapse.

• Recently acquired railroad giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $26 billion.

• “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.”

• Berkshire Hathaway book value was up 19.8% to $21.8 billion in 2009.

• Son of Nebraska stockbroker met value investor Benjamin Graham while studying economics at Columbia.

• Took over textile firm Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, used company as a vehicle to invest in insurance (Geico), food (Dairy Queen), utilities (MidAmerican Energy) and recently green tech (electric-car maker BYD).

Ambani
AP Photo

4) Mukesh Ambani

Net Worth: $29 billion

Source: Petrochemicals, oil and gas

Residence: India

• Global ambitions: His Reliance Industries, already India’s most valuable company, recently bid $2 billion for 65% stake in troubled Canadian oil sands outfit Value Creations.

• Firm’s $14.5 billion offer to buy bankrupt petrochemicals maker LyondellBasell was rejected.

• Since September company has sold Treasury shares worth $2 billion to be used for acquisitions.

• Late father, Dhirubhai, founded Reliance and built it into a massive conglomerate. After he died, Mukesh and his brother, Anil, ran the family business together for a brief time. But siblings feuded over control; mother eventually brokered split of assets, with Mukesh getting oil, gas and petrochemicals businesses.

• Still at odds with Anil over gas supply agreement; awaiting Supreme Court’s final ruling.

• Owns cricket team Mumbai Indians.

Mittal
AP Photo

5) Lakshmi Mittal

Net Worth: $28.7 billion

Source: Steel

Residence: India

• London’s richest resident oversees ArcelorMittal, world’s largest steel maker. Net profits fell 75% in 2009.

• Mittal took 12% pay cut amid slump but improved outlook pushed stock up one-third in past year.

• Looking to expand in his native India; wants to build steel mills in Jharkhad and Orissa but has not received government approval.

• Started in family steel business in India in 1970s; branched out on his own in 1994.

• Initially bought up steel mills on the cheap in Eastern Europe.

• Earned $1.1 billion for selling his interest in a Kazakh refinery in December.

• Sits on the boards of Goldman Sachs, EADS.

• Upped stake in struggling British soccer team QPR in February.

• Funding 400-foot sculpture to be built in London’s Olympic Park in time for 2012 Olympics.

• Owns 12-bedroom mansion in London’s posh Kensington neighborhood.

• Daughter-in-law Megha recently bought insolvent German fashion house Escada.

Ellison
AP Photo

6) Lawrence Ellison

Net Worth: $28 billion

Source: Oracle

Residence: U.S.

• Oracle founder’s fortune continues to soar; shares up 70% in past 12 months.

• Database giant has bought 57 companies in the past five years.

• Completed $7.4 billion buyout of Sun Microsystems in January; acquired BEA Systems for $8.5 billion in 2008.

• Studied physics at U. of Chicago; didn’t graduate.

• Started Oracle 1977; took public a day before Microsoft in 1986.

• Owns 52% stake in business-software company NetSuite; shares worth $480 million.

• Racing junkie owns 453-foot yacht Rising Sun with pal David Geffen. Won America’s Cup in February, besting longtime rival billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli.

Arnault
AP Photo

7) Bernard Arnault

Net Worth: $27.5 billion

Source: Luxury goods

Residence: France

• Bling is back, helping fashion icon grab title of richest European as shares of his luxury goods outfit LVMH–maker of Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon–surge 57%.

• LVMH is developing upscale Shanghai commercial property, L’Avenue Shanghai, with Macau billionaire Stanley Ho.

• Renaissance man owns French tour operator Go Voyages, yacht builder Royal Van Lent; has a stake in French retailer Carrefour.

• Built Le Cheval Blanc in ski resort town of Courchevel, France, where he likes to spend New Year’s Eve.

• Father, Jean, who died in January, made small fortune in construction; sale of that business later helped fund Arnault’s move into real estate and eventually into luxury goods.

• Still a family affair: son Antoine, 32, and daughter Delphine, 34, sit on LVMH’s board.

• Wife is a concert pianist; Arnault himself reported to be an excellent piano player.

Batista
AP Photo

8) Eike Batista

Net Worth: $27 billion

Source: Mining, oil

Residence: Brazil

• Vowing to become world’s richest man–and he may be on his way. This year’s biggest gainer added $19.5 billion to his personal balance sheet.

• Son of Brazil’s revered former mining minister who presided over mining giant Companhia Vale do Rio Doce got his start in gold trading and mining. Insists Dad didn’t help: “All my businesses started from zero. My father was a problem for me because he never let me near Vale.”

• Made a pile in resources and other services, but two-thirds of his fortune comes from relatively new source, OGX Petróleo e Gas Participações, the oil-and-gas exploration company he founded in 2007 and took public a year later.

• Police raided his home in 2008, alleging Batista smuggled gold and unfairly influenced the acquisition of a railroad. He denied all wrongdoing, emerged unscathed.

• Onetime champion offshore powerboat racer.

• Formerly married to Playboy cover girl.

• Provided financing to Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic committee, helping the city win its bid for 2016 Olympic Games.

Ortega
Miguel Vidal/Reuters

9) Amancio Ortega

Net Worth: $25 billion

Source: Fashion retail

Residence: Spain

• Style maven lords over Inditex; fashion firm, which operates under several brand names including Zara, Massimo Dutti and Stradivarius, has 4,500 stores in 73 countries including new spots in Mexico and Syria.

• Set up joint venture with Tata Group subsidiary to enter India in 2010.

• Betting on Florida real estate: bought Coral Gables office tower that is currently home to Bacardi USA.

• Also owns a luxury apartment complex in Miami; properties in Madrid, Paris, London and Lisbon, a horse-jumping circuit, an interest in a soccer league; has investments in gas, tourism and banks.

• Railway worker’s son started as a gofer in a shirt store.

• With then-wife Rosalia Mera, also a billionaire, started making dressing gowns and lingerie in living room.

• Shuns neckties and fanfare.

• Daughter Marta works for Inditex; speculation has it she’s being groomed to eventually replace her father.

Albrecht
Kpix

10) Karl Albrecht

Net Worth: $23.5 billion

Source: Supermarkets

Residence: Germany

• Owns discount supermarket giant Aldi Sud, one of Germany’s (and Europe’s) dominant grocers.

• Has 1,000 stores in U.S. across 29 states.

• Estimated sales: $37 billion.

• Plans to open New York City store this year.

• With younger brother, Theo, transformed mother’s corner grocery store into Aldi after World War II. Brothers split ownership in 1961; Karl took the stores in southern Germany, plus the rights to the brand in the U.K., Australia and the U.S. Theo got northern Germany and the rest of Europe.

• Retired from daily operations.

• Fiercely private: little known about him other than that he apparently raises orchids and plays golf.

Kamprad
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

11) Ingvar Kamprad and Family

Net Worth: $23 billion

Source: Ikea

Residence: Sweden

• Ikea’s reputation under fire. In Russia company fired two top managers for allowing bribes to a power supplier. In France firm is facing an extended workers’ strike.

• A former managing director has published a book exposing questionable ethics.

• Even Kamprad’s frugal image is being questioned, as details of a fancier life (he reportedly drives a Porsche) emerge.

• Still, no one can question his success: peddled matches, fish, pens, Christmas cards and other items by bicycle as a teenager. Started selling furniture in 1947.

• Opened first Ikea store more than 50 years ago; chain’s name is a combination of initials of his first and last name, his family farm and the nearest village.

• Retired in 1986; company’s “senior advisor” still reportedly works tirelessly on his brand.

• Discount retailer now sells 9,500 items in 37 countries; prints catalog in 27 languages.

• Fiscal 2009 sales: $31 billion.

• Plans to open 15 stores in 2010, including one in Shenyang, China.

Christy_Walton
L. Matthew Bowler

12) Christy Walton and Family

Net Worth: $22.5 billion

Source: Wal-Mart

Residence: U.S.

• World’s largest retailer benefited as cash-strapped shoppers looked to discount merchandise at start of economic slump.

• Boost may have waned; recently reported 1.6% decline in same-store sales in its U.S. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, warned of soft sales in current quarter.

• Still, shares are up 7% in past 12 months and family fortune rose a combined $13 billion, largely recovering losses from market crash.

• Sam Walton started as J.C. Penney clerk. Opened Benjamin Franklin five-and-dime in 1945; lost lease five years later. Founded Bentonville, Ark., general store with brother James 1962.

• Today Wal-Mart has $405 billion in annual sales, 2 million employees, more than 8,400 stores.

• Christy is the richest of the Waltons thanks to late husband John’s early bet on First Solar; alternative energy stock up more than 350% since 2006 public offering.

Persson
EyePress/Newscom

13) Stefan Persson

Net Worth: $22.4 billion

Source: H&M

Residence: Sweden

• “Cheap chic” mogul is chairman of Hennes & Mauritz (H&M); promoted son, Karl-Johan, 34, to chief executive in July.

• Retailer is known for bringing on big names like Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney to design affordable collections for its 1,900 stores.

• Continuing its designer collaborations with new shoe line with Jimmy Choo that debuted in November and knitwear line with Sonia Rykiel.

• Continues to expand internationally: opened first stores in Russia, Lebanon and South Korea in past year.

• His father, Erling, founded H&M in 1947; Stefan took over in 1982, gave up chief executive position in 1998.

• Reportedly acquired the village of Linkenholt in Hampshire, England, last summer.

• A founder of the Mentor Foundation, nonprofit that combats substance abuse among youth.

• Enjoys downhill skiing, tennis and golf.

Ka-shing
AP Photo

14) Li Ka-shing

Net Worth: $21 billion

Source: Diversified

Residence: Hong Kong

• Betting on recovery, upped stakes in publicly traded conglomerates Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa. Cheung Kong paid $100 million for shares in Russian aluminum maker Rusal ahead of its January Hong Kong public offering. Hutchison Whampoa is attempting to take its telecom subsidiary private for $545 million in cash; awaiting regulatory approval.

• Through HW, Li is world’s largest operator of container terminals, world’s largest health and beauty retailer by number of outlets, a major supplier of electricity to Hong Kong and a real estate developer.

• Has a large holding in Canadian oil firm Husky Energy, which recently announced its third discovery in South China Sea.

• Asia’s most generous individual has given out $1.4 billion to education, medical research.

• Humble origins: quit school at age 15 to support his family; made plastic flowers that he exported to U.S. in the 1950s.

• Eldest son, Victor, helps him run businesses; son Richard struck out on his own in early 1990s and is a billionaire in his own right.

Jim_Walton
AP Photo

15) Jim C. Walton

Net Worth: $20.7 billion

Source: Wal-Mart

Residence: U.S.

• Sam Walton started as J.C. Penney clerk. Opened Benjamin Franklin five-and-dime in 1945; lost lease five years later. Founded Bentonville, Ark., general store with brother James in 1962.

• Today Walmart has $405 billion in annual sales, 2 million employees, more than 8,400 stores.

• Jim runs family’s Arvest bank.

Alice_Walton
AP Photo

16) Alice Walton

Net Worth: $20.6 billion

Source: Wal-Mart

Residence: U.S.

• World’s largest retailer benefited as cash-strapped shoppers looked to discount merchandise at start of economic slump.

• Boost may have waned; recently reported 1.6% decline in same-store sales in its U.S. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, warned of soft sales in current quarter.

• Still, shares up 7% in past 12 months and family fortune rose a combined $13 billion, largely recovering losses from market crash.

• Alice funded $100 million airport in Bentonville 1990; building Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Bettencourt
Francois Durand/Getty Images

17) Liliane Bettencourt

Net Worth: $20 billion

Source: L’Oreal

Residence: France

• Makeup heiress’ fortune rebounding with L’Oreal shares.

• Company, founded by her father, celebrated its 100th birthday in 2009.

• Last year only daughter and heir, Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, petitioned courts to investigate reported $1.4 billion worth of cash and gifts her mother allegedly gave to Francois-Marie Banier, 61, a well-known photographer, writer and painter whom she befriended. Daughter claims Banier took advantage of her mother, who became a widow in 2007. Liliane denies it; has been ordered to undergo psychological testing before July trial. Mother and daughter apparently no longer speak.

SRobson_Walton
AP Photo

18) S. Robson Walton

Net Worth: $19.8 billion

Source: Wal-Mart

Residence: U.S.

• Rob has been chairman of Wal-Mart since 1992.

• World’s largest retailer benefited as cash-strapped shoppers looked to discount merchandise at start of economic slump.

• Boost may have waned; recently reported 1.6% decline in same-store sales in its U.S. Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, warned of soft sales in current quarter.

• Still, shares up 7% in past 12 months and family fortune rose a combined $13 billion, largely recovering losses from market crash.

• Sam Walton started as J.C. Penney clerk. Opened Benjamin Franklin five-and-dime in 1945; lost lease five years later. Founded Bentonville, Ark., general store with brother James in 1962.

• Today Walmart has $405 billion in annual sales, 2 million employees, more than 8,400 stores.

Alsaud
AFP/Getty Images

19) Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud

Net Worth: $19.4 billion

Source: Diversified

Residence: Saudi Arabia

• Net worth of globe-trotting investor and nephew of the Saudi king is up $6.1 billion in the past year.

• Two-thirds of his fortune is held in his 95% stake in Saudi-listed investment vehicle, Kingdom Holding.

• In the five weeks leading up to Forbes’ stock valuation date, Kingdom shares jumped 49%.

• Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding together own a 3.5% stake in Citigroup. As the bank’s largest individual investor, he has been vocal in his support of its chief executive Vikram Pandit.

• Kingdom Holding also has large holdings in the Four Seasons and Fairmont hotel management chains.

• In late February News Corp. purchased a 9% stake in Alwaleed’s Arab media and entertainment company Rotana, valuing the company at $770 million.

• His palaces and real estate are worth more than $3 billion.

• Owns jewelry collection he values at $730 million, plus four airplanes, including an Airbus A380.

Thomson
Mike Cassese/Reuters

20) David Thomson and Family

Net Worth: $19 billion

Source: Thomson Reuters

Residence: Canada

• Chairman of Thomson Reuters knocks longtime rival Michael Bloomberg out of top 20.

• Firm acquired financial commentary site Breakingviews in December.

• Grandfather Roy founded the media group in 1934.

• With brother Peter, serves as cochair of family’s investment concern, Woodbridge.

• Also owns CTVglobemedia; multimedia outfit’s holdings include Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and dozens of TV channels and radio stations.



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