Gates no longer world’s richest man: Forbes

The winds of change blew through the ranks of the world’s richest men and women in 2007, with a new richest man on both the world stage and in Australia, and a surge in the number of developing world billionaires.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been toppled from his perch as the richest person on the globe by his friend and fellow US entrepreneur Warren Buffett, according to the latest global rich list released by Forbes magazine yesterday.

Buffett, the boss of investment conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, managed to add an additional $US10 billion in 2007 to push his personal wealth to an estimated US$62 billion. Gates’ wealth grew by a meagre $US2 billion, leaving him second on the list with US$52 billion in the bank.

There was also a changing of the guard in Australia, with Fortescue Metals mogul Andrew Forrest riding the China-driven commodities boom to amass a cool $US6.5 billion fortune and push past Jamie Packer as the nation’s richest person.

The recent strong share performance of Forrest’s company enabled him to overtake Packer, who Forbes estimates is worth $US5.7 billion.

Gina Rinehart was the only Australian woman to make Forbes’ list of Australian billionaires, which also includes retailer Gerry Harvey and disgraced packing mogul Richard Pratt.

This year’s Forbes list also records its youngest self-made billionaire ever – 23-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is worth around $US1.5 billion.

Looking around the globe, this year’s list saw an influx of new billionaires from the developing world, particularly Eastern Europe, Asia and South America.

According to Forbes, former communist nation Russia, with 87 billionaires, now has the second largest number of ultra rich, easily overtaking Germany’s 59 billionaires, which held the honour for six years.

China now accounts for 28 of the world’s billionaires and India 19, both increases on last year.

The Forbes list of Australian billionaires

Rank Name Age $US b

145

Andrew Forrest

46

6.5

173

James Packer

40

5.7

222

Frank Lowy & family

77

4.6

396

Shi Zhengrong

45

2.9

428

Harry Triguboff

75

2.7

503

Gina Rinehart

54

2.4

573

Richard Pratt

73

2.1

605

John Gandel

73

2.0

605

Kerr Neilson

58

2.0

677

Stanley Perron

85

1.8

707

Lindsay Fox

69

1.7

785

Kerry Stokes

66

1.5

843

Gerald Harvey

68

1.4

1014

John Grill

62

1.1

Forbes list of the world’s 10 richest people

Rank Name Age $US b

1

Warren Buffett

77

62.0

2

Carlos Slim Helu & family

68

60.0

3

William Gates III

52

58.0

4

Lakshmi Mittal

57

45.0

5

Mukesh Ambani

50

43.0

6

Anil Ambani

48

42.0

7

Ingvar Kamprad & family

81

31.0

8

KP Singh

76

30.0

9

Oleg Deripaska

40

28.0

10

Karl Albrecht

88

27.0

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