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  1. Wealth
March 7, 2012

Forbes List of Billionaires: Record-Breaking Combined Wealth and Numbers

By Spear's

The number of the world’s billionaires has reached a historic peak of 1,226 individuals, and they are holding more wealth than ever before, according to the Forbes list of global billionaires. The combined net worth of the world’s billionaires reached $4.6 trillion this year, a 2 per cent increase on 2011.

The number of the world’s billionaires has reached a historic peak of 1,226 individuals, and they are holding more wealth than ever before, according to the Forbes list of global billionaires. The combined net worth of the world’s billionaires reached $4.6 trillion this year, a 2 per cent increase on 2011.



If the global financial crisis is felt at all by those on the billionaires list it is in the new volatility in the incomes of the very rich. Only 180 billionaires experienced no change in their income, while 441 lost wealth and 460 gained wealth.

Despite losing $5 billion this year, Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico held his position as the world’s richest man, with a total fortune of $69 billion. Meanwhile, Bill Gates, the second richest man, gained $5 billion in 2011.        

Li Ka-shing of Hong Kong ranked the 9th richest man, and the richest Asian. India’s Lakshmi Mittal previously held this title, but this year he has earned a new accolade – as the biggest loser on the billionaire list, having lost $10.4 billion and slipped to 21st position. It is the first time that Mittal has not been in the top 10 since 2004.



The richest European remained France’s Bernard Arnaud of luxury conglomerate LVMH, who has a net worth of $41 billion, while the richest man in the UK is Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, worth $11 billion.

Only 8.5% of billionaires are women, but this year Forbes’ recorded a record-breaking number of female billionaires. Of the 104 female billionaires listed, the majority gained their wealth through inheritance or marriage, with a number of notable exceptions. The richest woman for the 7th year running is Christy Walton, the Wal-Mart heiress. While at only 41, Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire.

Predictably, the youngest billionaire is one of the first employees of Facebook. Moskovitz is only 27, but has a net worth of $3.5 billion. Moskovitz was a roommate of Mark Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook, and is only 8 days older. Zuckerberg is the 35th richest man in the world, with a net worth of $17.5 billion.



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The list includes billionaires from 58 countries, but the USA still holds the record for the largest number of billionaires (425), including 12 new billionaires.

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