Little Miss Drama

The world’s richest people

on December 9, 2013

Source: Arabian Business

The planet’s top ten wealthiest individuals are collectively worth a little over half a trillion dollars. So who are they?

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1. Bill Gates

$77.2bn

Internationally known business genius and pioneer, Bill Gates, has once again become the world’s richest businessman. Earning back his title from Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, Gates’ fortune is valued at $77.2bn, up 16 percent from last year. Interestingly enough, Gates, who is known worldwide for his co-founding of Washington-based Microsoft Corp (MSFT), makes relatively little from the world’s biggest software company, with less than a quarter of his fortune coming from Microsoft.

And although Microsoft shares have risen 28 percent this year despite losing ground to Apple and Google in terms of mobile computing, the company, formed in 1975, was kept up and running through cost controls and the sales of business and server software. As for the rest of Gates’ wealth, it includes the rally in stock holdings such as the Canadian National Railway Co (CNR) as well as the waste collection company Republic Services Inc. (RSG).

With his owning stakes in more than a dozen of Cascade Investment’s publicly traded companies and closely held operations, this Harvard university dropout remains one of the most respected and influential figures in technology and business. Despite low consumer demand for personal computers run by the new Microsoft Windows 8 operating system, Gates’ fortune is not going anywhere near “low” anytime soon.

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2. Carlos Slim Helu

$71.6bn

Losing his “world’s richest man” title to Microsoft’s Bill Gates’, telecom billionaire Carlos Slim Helu is still nowhere near a welfare cheque. His net worth estimated at $71.6bn, 73-year-old Slim makes most of his wealth from telecommunications. And when he is not growing his multi-billion-dollar telecoms empire through companies Telmex and America Movil, which operate in eighteen countries across Latin America, the US and the Caribbean, Helu is developing his mining, financial, industrial, and real estate companies.

In addition to his owning stakes in both Mexico’s Leon and Pachuca clubs, as well as Spain’s Real Oviedo, the self-made Mexican billionaire also owns stakes in Philip Morris, the New York Times, Saks, and Caixabank. Recently teaming up with his rival, Bill Gates, Helu announced that he will be funding research to help diminish hunger and support farmers in developing countries across the globe. Furthermore, in the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi this year, the Carlos Slim Foundation declared $100m to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). And although the business tycoon of Lebanese descent has recently become second best to Gates’, $71.6bn is not a bad return for someone who graduated in 1961 with a modest degree in engineering.

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3. Amancio Ortega

$63.3bn

With more than 100 companies and 6,104 stores in 400 cities across five continents, Amancio Ortega needs no introduction. Once again named the world’s third richest man, the Zara chain owner, 77-year-old Ortega, still owns a 59 percent stake in his holding empire, Inditex, despite stepping down as chairman in 2011.

The continuously fast growing holding group, which started in 1975 when Ortega opened his first Zara shop, now includes eight internationally known clothing brands strategically placed across the globe, including as Zara, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, and Bershka. Yet despite the popularity of this Spanish businessman’s multi-billion-dollar self-made empire, Ortega himself remains as reclusive as when he first started, refusing until this day to be interviewed.

Ortega’s estimated net worth is $63.3bn, and his holding group continues to generate over 10,000 new jobs throughout the world. In addition, Inditex, in collaboration with the Entreculturas Foundation, invested €10m into education-based projects in Africa and Latin America. The projects are targeted at helping 120,000 people in 13 countries.

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4. Warren Buffett

$59.7bn

Buying his first stock at 11 years old, Warren Buffett would quickly learn the art of buying the right stock at the right time, becoming a top figure in the investment world. His famous method, buying stocks when their price is below the value of the company, continues to place him on top of the list of the world’s richest men, coming in fourth place this year.

And in addition to his publicly traded holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, which includes the insurance company Geico and manufacturing company Clayton Homes, and where Buffett himself is CEO and chairman, a real estate franchise, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services has been launched earlier this year as well. The new real estate brokerage franchise now has more than 62 offices across California and the Central Coast and has plans to eventually expand globally.

The company also marks Buffett’s first time entering the real estate market. Given that he’s known for his credibility, innovation and influence in the investment business, this billionaire’s estimated net worth of $59.7bn looks nowhere near jeopardised. Buffett’s largest stakes includes pieces of the likes of Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and many others.

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5. Ingvar Kamprad

$51.4bn

Selling matchsticks to his neighbours, Ingvar Kamprad was already in business at age five. Today, the name behind the world’s largest furniture retailer, IKEA, is estimated as being worth $51.4bn. The 87-year-old founder stepped down from the board of Inter IKEA Holding and gave his youngest son, Mathias, operational control of IKEA. Yet despite the switch in power, Inter IKEA Group is still rising, with three new shopping malls opening soon in China, all worth €1bn in investments. Like his successor on the list, Amancio Ortega, Kamprad prefers to keep a low public profile.

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 6. Charles Koch$46.4bn

At 78, Charles Koch is still chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries, owning 42 percent of the company. His US firm, which operates in fields such as oil refining, pipelines and commodities trading makes an annual sale of $115bn. In addition, Koch is the co-founder of Cato Research Institution for Libertarian Tenets, as well as the founder of the Charles Koch Foundation which studies economic freedom and supports professional educational programmes. His estimated net worth is $46.4bn, up from $40.3bn last year.

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7. David Koch$46.4bn

Like his brother, Charles, 73-year-old David has an estimated net worth of $46.4bn, and also owns 42 percent of Koch Industries where he is executive vice president. Known as a philanthropist, Koch regularly funds research for prostate cancer, having been diagnosed with it himself. He also arranged a fundraiser dinner for Mitt Romney in 2012 where the price of a plate was $50,000. Interestingly, business is not the only field Koch is known for. He scored 41 points in a single basketball match, setting the MIT record.

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8. Larry Ellison$39.9bn

The American college dropout with an estimated $39.9bn is the founder, CEO, and largest shareholder of the world’s largest database company, Oracle. Apart from owning a 23 percent stake in Oracle, Ellison owns a 46 percent stake in NetSuite, as well as interests in LeapFrog Software Company. And despite Oracle’s stocks being flat in 2013, Ellison also owns stakes in Oracle’s competitor Salesforce.com, where stocks increased almost 30 percent. In addition, the self-made multi-billionaire bought 98 percent of the Hawaiian island Lanai for $300m.

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9. Christy Walton$39.4bn

Christy Walton, known as the widow of one of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton’s sons, is the world’s richest woman and has an estimated net worth of $39.4bn, up from $29.7bn last year. In 2005, Walton inherited her husband’s 12.2 percent stake in Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the US. In addition, the retail billionaire owns 25 million shares of solar plant manufacturer, First Solar.

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10. Jim Walton$37.7bn

Another heir of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, Jim Walton has an estimated net worth of $37.7bn. Being the youngest son of Sam, Jim heads some of the Walton family business like Arvest bank. And since John’s death in 2005, Jim took over his brother’s place on the Wal-Mart board and now owns more than 413 million shares. As for America’s richest family, the Waltons control almost 51 percent of Wal-Mart and have recently invested in Solyndra, the bankrupt solar cells maker company. Jim himself owns a newspaper, Benton Country Daily Record.

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