Bill Gates tops Forbes rich list for 20th year; Profits up at Premier Investments: Midday Roundup

Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates has once again topped Forbes US rich list, banking an impressive $US72 billion, as America’s richest increased their wealth by $300 billion this year.

It’s Gate’s 20th year leading the list of America’s 400 richest people.

Investor Warren Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, has held onto second place with $US58.5 billion and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison came in third with $US41 billion.

America’s most affluent are now worth an impressive $2 trillion, up from $1.7 trillion last year.

The average net worth of the top 400 rose to $US5 billion and only 30 of the top 400 saw their wealth decline.

Other notables to make the list include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Koch Industries co-owners Charles and David Koch, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Profits up at Premier Investments

A challenging retail forecast hasn’t stopped Premier Investments from seeking new opportunities in the United Kingdom and the expansion of its Peter Alexander sleepwear stores.

The retail company – which owns brands like Just Jeans, Smiggle, Jacquie E, Portmans and Jay Jays – announced a rise in full year profits after tax of $174.5 million for the previous financial year, which is a significant rise on last year’s $68.3 million profit.

Revenue was up 16.9% to $1.02 billion, up from $871 million last year.

Chairman Solomon Lew said the company planned to open up to 200 new Smiggle stores in the UK, and wanted to expand its Peter Alexander network by up to 50% over the next three years.

“The retail environment in Australia remains challenging, however we continue to adapt by rejuvenating our core brands, growing uniquely positioned brands like Peter Alexander and seeking opportunities for further offshore expansion of Smiggle,” Lew said.

Australian shares retreat from five-year high

The Australian sharemarket opened slightly lower this morning, undoing yesterday’s five-year record.

At 11.30 AEST, the S&P/ASX200 was down 0.06% to 5245, while the broader All Ordinaries index fell 0.05% to 5239.

Overnight, US stocks closed in positive territory as investors welcomed the exit of Larry Summers from the Fed Chairman race. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.77%, while the S&P500 rose 0.57%.

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.93, having risen slightly overnight.


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