Top billionaires: who is the richest person in the world?

Mar 3, 2014

Facebook helps WhatsApp founders onto Forbes's rich list, while Bill Gates regains his spot at the top

TECHNOLOGY entrepreneurs feature heavily in the Forbes list of global billionaires this year, with Bill Gates regaining his place as the richest person in the world. 

The Microsoft founder missed out on the top spot for the last four years, but he is back after a bounce in the company's shares, with a net worth of $76bn.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 29, was crowned the "biggest gainer" as shares in the social network boomed and his net worth jumped from $15.2bn to $28.5bn over the past year.

Facebook helped propel numerous other fortunes too. The company's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and long-time vice president Jeff Rothschild joined the ranks of the world's billionaires for the first time this year, while WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton also joined the list thanks to a $19bn deal with Facebook last month.

With a net worth of $32bn, Amazon's Jeff Bezos came out marginally higher on the list than Zuckerberg, as did Google's Sergey Brin, whose net worth was $31.8bn.

Of the 1,645 members of the Forbes Billionaires list, 31 were under the age of 40, and 172 were women, with a record 42 female newcomers.

Here are the top ten Forbes Billionaires:

1. Bill Gates, $76bn

After a four-year hiatus, the Microsoft founder has reclaimed the title of world's richest person from Carlos Slim Helu. Gates has held the top spot for 15 of the past 20 years.

2. Carlos Slim Helu, $72bn

The Mexican mogul slipped down to second place after shares of Minera Frisco, his mining company, fell more than 50 per cent and telecom firm America Movil, his largest asset, saw a dip in value.

3. Amancio Ortega, $64bn

The world's richest retailer stepped down as chairman of Inditex, known for its Zara brand, in 2011 but he still owns nearly 60 per cent of its shares.

4. Warren Buffet, $58.2bn

Now in his ninth decade, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO is still making huge deals and investments.

5. Larry Ellison, $48bn

The fifth richest man in the world is CEO and founder of Oracle, the American multinational computer technology corporation headquartered in Redwood City, California.

6. Charles Koch/David Koch, $40bn/$40bn

The brothers who own Koch Industries, America's second largest private company, behind Cargill, with interests including oil pipelines and refineries, are the richest siblings in the world.

7. Sheldon Adelson, $38bn

Shares in Adelson's Las Vegas Sands casinos, worth more than all other US casino companies combined, continued climbing this year, putting him back in the top ten for the first time since 2007.

8. Christy Walton, $36.7bn

The daughter-in-law of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton is the richest woman in the world. She inherited her wealth after her husband John died in a plane crash in 2005, and she received $460m in Wal-Mart dividends after taxes in 2013.

9. Jim Walton, $34.7bn

The youngest son of Sam Walton also saw a nice bump in his wealth last year thanks to a six per cent gain in Wal-Mart shares.

10 Liliane Bettencourt, $34.5bn

The 91-year-old widow no longer runs L'Oreal, the company her father founded, but nevertheless grew wealthier this year thanks to the French cosmetics giant's stock price, up nine per cent since 2013.

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