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  1. Wealth
March 11, 2011

Forbes Billionaires More Numerous, Richer

By Spear's

Despite the global downturn, HNWs are getting richer and more numerous. The Forbes Billionaires list for 2011 had a record-breaking constituency, with 1,210 individuals. Their combined worth is $4.5 trillion, another record

Despite the global downturn, HNWs are getting richer and more numerous. The Forbes Billionaires list for 2011 had a record-breaking constituency, with 1,210 individuals. Their combined worth is $4.5 trillion, another record.

With a fortune of $74 billion, Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu topped the list, making him the world’s richest man for a second year running. Mr Helu has had a good year: he is also the biggest gainer of 2011, having increased his fortune by $20.5 billion.

This year’s list reflects the increasing strength and importance of the BRIC economies. 108 out of the 214 new billionaires on the list come from Brazil, Russia, India and China. Just 10 years ago, half of the world’s billionaires were from the US – now it’s more like a third. Before 2011 only America had more than 100 billionaires – now China has 115 and Russia has 101.

Russia’s richest man is steel magnate Vladimir Lisin, the fourteenth richest in the world, estimated to be worth $24 billion. The richest man in China is Robin Li, who made $9.4 billion founding Chinese search engine Baidu (95th). The aptly named Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa & Cheung Kong Holdings, is the richest man from Hong Kong, and eleventh richest in the world.

Thanks to China’s economic prowess, the Asia-Pacific region now has more billionaires than Europe. This year Asia posted 332 billionaires, while ailing Europe posted 300. Bernard Arnault, Europe’s richest man and head of luxury goods outfit Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, with a fortune of $41 billion, up $13.5 billion from last year, is the fourth richest man in the world.

The Middle East and Africa have fewer, yet (relative to their regional GDPs) still have an impressive 89 billionaires with a combined fortune of $251 billion. 24 new Middle Eastern and African billionaires joined the list this year. The richest from the region is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud of Saudi Arabia, worth $19.6 billion. Nigerian entrepreneur Aliko Dangote saw his fortune rise 557 per cent this year. With a fortune of $13.8 billion he is now the richest man in Africa.

There are 102 women on the list, thirteen more than last year. The world’s richest woman is Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton (tenth). Of the top 20 richest women, only one is self-made: Wu Yajun made her $5.5 billion through real estate company Longfor Properties.

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As North Africa and the Middle East reel from popular uprisings organised by internet-savvy youths, facebook is no longer considered the preserve of serial procrastinators and housebound stalkers, but a revolutionary and democratic force. Social networking sites have certainly transformed the rich list. Six of the founders of facebook have made it onto the list of billionaires, and four of them are newcomers this year.

They have injected some youth into the ageing ranks of the super-wealthy. The two youngest billionaires owe their fortunes to facebook: Dustin Moskovitz and Mark Zukerberg are both 26 and are worth $2.7 billion and $13.5 billion respectively. Fellow facebooker Eduardo Saverin and Napster founder Sean Parker are the fifth and eighth youngest billionaires. And facebook isn’t the only social network money spinner: the tenth youngest billionaire, Yoshikazu Tanaka, founded Japanese social networking site Gree.

Spear’s: Europe has fewer billionaires than it should, Russia many more

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