Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Zara fashion house boss Amancio Ortega of Spain topped the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires on Monday.
Slim, who controls Latin American telecommunications power America Movil and retail/industrial group Grupo Carso, came in first among the mega-rich for the fourth straight year, with a fortune estimated at US$73 billion, up US$4 billion from a year ago.
Gates, a perennial list leader, placed second with US$67 billion, US$6 billion more than last year, even as he continues to give his fortune away via the global charity work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Ortega, whose Inditex fashion group includes the popular Zara chain, vaulted from fifth into the third spot with US$57 billion, compared with US$37.5 billion a year ago.
Ortega was the biggest gainer, while Brazilian metals and oil magnate Eike Batista slipped from seventh to 100th place after a US$19.4 billion drop in his fortune.
After a year in which the “Occupy Wall Street” movement decried the growing wealth of the so-called “1 Percent” at the expense of the many, the Forbes annual list once again pointed to more billionaires amassing more money.
The list now boasts 1,426 names, a record, including 210 new members. The group’s aggregate net worth comes in at US$5.4 trillion, up from US$4.6 trillion last year.
The US led the list with 442 tycoons, followed by China with 122, Russia with 110 and Germany with 58. The number of women billionaires jumped by 34 to 138.
Forbes said that rebounding equity markets and stronger consumer brands “drove a huge” number of newcomers, including Italy’s Diesel jeans mogul Renzo Rosso; US retailer Bruce Nordstrom; and US designer Tory Burch.
Berkshire Hathaway chief executive and chairman Warren Buffett ranked fourth with US$53.5 billion, and Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison came in fifth, with US$43 billion.
Tied at sixth were brothers Charles and David Koch, with US$34 billion each, fortunes built on their US oil refining, pulp and paper and chemicals empire Koch Industries.
Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠), who heads Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd (長江實業) and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (和記黃埔), was eighth with US$31 billion.
French luxury tycoons rounded out the top 10: Liliane Bettencourt and family, of the L’Oreal cosmetics and beauty empire, with US$30 billion, and Bernard Arnault, leader of LVMH, with US$29 billion.
Four members of the Walton family, the dynasty behind retailer Walmart, dominated the list of billionaires just outside the top 10, with individual gold piles of between US$26 billion and US$28 billion. Together, though, they were Forbes’ richest family, with US$107.3 billion.