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Mexican Carlos Slim world's richest in new Forbes ranking
Published in Daily News Egypt on 11 - 03 - 2010

NEW YORK: Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim has dethroned Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the world wealthiest person and China is fast catching up with the number of US billionaires on the annual Forbes rich list.
The new annual list saw the 70-year-old Slim catapult from third place last year to the top spot, thanks to the success of his America Movil company, Latin America s biggest mobile phone operator.
Slim s fortune was estimated at $53.5 billion, according to Forbes, which said his wealth increased by $18.5 billion in 12 months.
Gates, 54, slipped to second place with $53 billion while American super investor Warren Buffett was third with $47 billion.
The United States remained by far the dominant home of the super-rich, with 403 billionaires, or 40 percent of the world s 10-figure fortunes, down from 45 percent.
China moved up to second place with 64 billionaires, including 27 newly minted ones. Including Hong Kong, China has 89 billionaires.
The Arab world has 23 billionaires, 10 coming from Saudi Arabia, three in each of the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt, and one from Kuwait.
Egypt's four billionaires are all members of the Sawiris family. Nassef Sawiris, 48, son of Orascom conglomerate founder and fellow billionaire Onsi Sawiris, ranks 127th - compared to 196th in 2009 - and is herewith the first of his family.
His fortune is estimated at $5.9 billion and is steadily growing. He has taken over the leadership of the empire s flagship construction and fertilizer division in 1998 and amongst other things announced in January a joint venture with investment bank Morgan Stanley in order to invest in infrastructure assets in the Middle East and Africa.
Onsi Sawiris, 80, ranks 307th with $3.1 billion. Naguib Sawiris, the 55-year-old Orascom Telecom chairman, ranks 374th with $2.5 billion.
Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud (55) is this year's richest Arab, climbing from 22nd in 2009 to 19th this year.
Forbes estimated his fortune at $19.4 billion - $6.1 billion more than last year. Two-thirds of his fortune is held in his 95 percent stake in Kingdom Holding Company, a Saudi investment enterprise.
Share in Slim s America Movil, of which he owns a $23-billion stake, have gained 35 percent in a year. Slim learned his business acumen from his father, a Lebanese immigrant, who gave each of his children a savings book to manage income and expenses.
He studied civil engineering and later built up the telephone monopoly Telmex after acquiring it from the government in 1990.
A widower with six children, Slim has handed over the daily operations of his companies to his three sons and business partners but remains a well-known public figure in Mexico.
He has recently made investments in telecommunications across the Americas, and has diversified his holding in areas of water and electric utilities.
Forbes counted 1,011 billionaires from 55 countries, up from 793 last year, though still below the pre-crisis 1,125 listed in 2008.
Gates worth has increased from an estimated $40 billion last year.
Buffett, who at 79 is considered one of the most reliable and successful Wall Street investors, has gone up from $37 billion in the recession hit list last year.
There has been a wealth resurgence after the financial turmoil of 2008 and 2009, with the top 10 worth a combined $342 billion, compared to $254 billion in the previous year.
The global economy is recovering. The financial markets came back, especially emerging markets, said magazine editor-in-chief Steve Forbes.
There s a 50 percent increase in general global wealth compared to last year, Forbes said.
Certainly the economy recovered for the super rich, who took a beating during last year s stock and commodity market collapses, but saw across-the-board gains this year.
The list includes 97 fresh billionaires, 62 of them charging out of Asia, a region that saw booming stock markets and several large public offerings in the past year.
Russia comes in third with 62 billionaires, many of them commodities kings who fell off the list last year, only to see their vast natural resource holdings regain value this year.
Europe is still the number two super-wealthy region, with 248 billionaires. The richest European is France s Bernard Arnault, 61, whose LVMH sells Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon, and other luxury goods, with his net worth at $27.5 billion.
Just behind is Spain s Amancio Ortega, owner of the Zara clothing chain, with $25 billion.
Asia trails Europe by only 14 billionaires and the region s net worth of 729 billion dollars is double what it was a year ago.
The region s richest man, oil-and-gas tycoon Mukesh Ambani, 52, climbed to four from seven on the list with a net worth of $29 billion, up 9.5 billion.
Pakistan has its first person on the list, Mian Muhammad Mansha, at number 937 with an even one billion dollars.
Sorted by city, billionaires congregate first in New York, where there are 60, then Moscow with 50 and London on 32.


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