Bill Gates has returned to the top of Forbes magazine’s annual list of the world’s richest people, as rising stock markets swelled the ranks of billionaires, which included a record number of women.
With a net worth of US$76 billion, the Microsoft Corp cofounder and chairman reclaimed the top spot after a four-year hiatus, toppling Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helu, who came second at US$72 billion, Forbes said as it announced the list on Monday.
Gates has topped the list for 15 of the past 20 years.
Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of clothing conglomerate Inditex SA, which includes the Zara fashion chain, was ranked third at US$64 billion.
Investing icon Warren Buffett, who runs Berkshire Hathaway Inc and is Gates’ frequent bridge partner, was fourth at US$58.2 billion, while Oracle Corp chief executive Larry Ellison came in fifth with US$48 billion.
A total of 28 business magnates from Taiwan made this year’s list, with Want Want China Group (旺旺集團) chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) retaining his title as the country’s richest person, with a fortune of US$9.5 billion ranking him 130th worldwide.
The US had the most billionaires on the list with 492, followed by China’s 152 and Russia’s 111. Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda joined the list with one each.
A record 1,645 billionaires with a total net worth of US$6.4 trillion made the list, up from 1,426 last year. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s billionaires, or 1,080, were self-made, while just more than 10 percent were female, pushing the number of women on the magazine’s list to 172 compared with 138 a year earlier.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc heiress Christy Walton was the highest-ranking woman, occupying ninth place with a fortune of US$36.7 billion.
Walton was followed by France’s Liliane Bettencourt, who acquired much of her wealth from cosmetics company L’Oreal SA, at No. 11 with US$34.5 billion.
The Internet was well-represented in this year’s list, with Google Inc founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin ranked 17th and 19th on US$32.3 billion and US$31.8 billion respectively, while Amazon.com Inc’s Jeff Bezos was between them at US$32 billion at No. 18.
Facebook Inc founder Mark Zuckerberg, 29, more than doubled his net worth to US$28.5 billion to take 21st place.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who left office two months ago, placed 16th with a fortune of US$33 billion built up mainly through his eponymous media company.
Forbes said that the year’s biggest loser was Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista, whose net worth fell below US$300 million from US$10.6 billion as his oil and natural resources empire collapsed amid too much debt and falling output.
Additional reporting by CNA