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Friday, March 10, 2006

Forbes Reports Billionaire Boom

A worldwide economic boom has yielded a record number of dollar billionaires in the past year, according to Forbes.

Their number rose by 15% to 793 with India taking the lead in Asia and new Russians lining up to fill the gap left by jailed Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates tops the list for the 12th year running at a net worth of $50bn (£29bn).

The combined net worth of the 793 is $2.6 trillion and US billionaires account for just under half the amount.

TOP FIVE BILLIONAIRES

  • Bill Gates (USA, Microsoft) - $ 50bn
  • Warren Buffett (USA, investor) - $42bn
  • Carlos Slim (Mexico, industrialist) - $30bn
  • Ingvar Kamprad (Sweden, Ikea) - $28bn
  • Lakshmi Mittal (India, steel) $23.5bn

“A billion just isn’t what it used to be,” said Luisa Kroll, Forbes magazine’s associate editor, revealing the 20th annual list in New York.

But she noted the figures were conservative estimates for different reasons.

A very positive spreadsheet could indicate a desire to sell a business, she told reporters, while somebody about to divorce might seek to downplay their worth.

According to the 2006 list:

  • the youngest billionaire is a Lebanese woman, 22-year-old Hind Hariri, who inherited $1.4bn from her assassinated father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
  • India’s 23 billionaires have a combined net worth of $99bn, surpassing former Asian leader Japan’s 27 billionaires with their total worth of $67bn
  • Russia’s 33 billionaires now have a combined wealth of $172bn, based largely on oil and gas prices, compared to a total of $68bn for oil-rich Saudi Arabia’s 11 billionaires.

‘Whiff of inflation’

“Russia continues to astound us,” said Ms Kroll, as seven new billionaires were recorded from that country.

Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos chief executive convicted of fraud and tax evasion last year, is now in a Siberian prison which allows its inmates to earn less than a dollar a day.

However, Forbes estimates he “still has somewhere below $500m”, said Ms Kroll.

While New York has the highest number of resident billionaires with 40, Moscow is second with 25, and London comes third with 23.

Steve Forbes, Forbes’ chief executive and editor-in-chief, attributed the global rise in the number of billionaires to an economic boom.

“The global economy has been growing the last two years at rates not seen since World War II, fuelled by a commodities boom with a whiff of inflation,” he said.

Source: Forbes
Via: BBC News

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