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  • 2/29/2012

The World's Top 7 Billionaires


In 2011, 1,210 names hit the world’s list of billionaires, according to estimates by Forbes. The usual suspects are there, with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison residing in the elite of the top 10. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (No. 52) and Dustin Moskovitz (No. 402), both 27, are the youngest. Swiss centenarian Walter Haefner (No. 268) is estimated to be the oldest. But none of those is estimated to be the world’s richest. That nod goes to the final entry in our slide show. But first, here are the rest of the super seven.


7. Amancio Ortega, $31 billion

Though no longer chairman of the fashion behemoth Inditex, Ortega still enjoys earning power that places him with the global elite. Forbes estimates the Spaniard derives 87 percent of his income from his holdings in Inditex, which has 5,000 stores in 77 countries and operates under brands like Zara and Stradivarius. Ortega, who is pictured with daughter Marta, began in the fashion business by making lingerie and dressing gowns in his living room with then-wife Rosalia.


6. Lakshmi Mittal, $31.1 billion

Being chairman of the world's largest steel company has helped to propel Mittal to the sixth slot in the ranking of the world's most well-to-do. The 61-year-old started in the family's steel business in his native India in the 70s but later branched out to expand into Eastern Europe. Recovery in the steel market helped produce net profits of $2.9 billion in 2010 for Arcelor Mittal, according to Forbes, and the company is underwriting a 377-foot sculpture in London's Olympic Park for the 2012 Summer Games.

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5. Larry Ellison, $39.5 billion

His greatest passion these days might be competitive sailing, and Ellison holds the sport's grandest prize -- the America's Cup. The next international regatta will be held in San Francisco in 2013. Ellison is still a major player in world business, though, as shown by his software company Oracle seeing a 30 percent bump in stock price. Ellison reportedly earned $960 million in executive compensation over the last five fiscal years, but has since dropped that amount to $1. He is also taking a page from the Gates/Buffett playbook and will donate 95 percent of his wealth to charity, according Forbes.


4. Bernard Arnault, $41 billion

The richest European, Arnault vaults to No. 4 on the world list. A renewed taste for luxury items has helped as Arnault's fortune ballooned by an estimated $13.5 billion according to Forbes. The 62-year-old is chairman of the group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), which saw shares grow by half as consumers increased their interest in such brands as Dom Perignon and Tag Heuer.


3. Warren Buffett, $50 billion

If you had read every book on stock investing by the time you were 12, you might also be in a similar position as Buffett, who is another familiar face in the world ranking of really rich guys. With 15 percent growth in his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett added a cool $3 billion to his pile, according to Forbes. But like his friend Gates, Buffett is also a leader in philanthropic efforts. Oh, and he owns a railroad -- Burlington Northern Santa Fe.


2. Bill Gates, $56 billion

No stranger to this list, Gates has enjoyed his own time atop the chart, but for the last two years has occupied the second chair to category leader Slim. Gates spends most of his time giving money away these days, but still holds a healthy portfolio. Allied with his wife Melinda, the pair have donated an estimated $30 billion of their fortune to The Gates Foundation, according to Forbes.

carlos slim helu

1. Carlos Slim Helu, $74 billion

For the second straight year, Slim has been estimated by Forbes to be the world's richest person. The 71-year-old calls Mexico City home and is the chairman of Telmex and owner of American Movil, a leading wireless company in Latin America. Slim was the largest gainer among the super rich, according to Forbes, increasing his wealth by $20.5 billion buoyed in part by a strong Mexican stock market.

Source: ehow.com

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