Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Top 3 Billionaires in the World


1-carlos-slim-helu.jpgChris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images
No. 1 Carlos Slim Helú & family
Net Worth: $74 billion ↑ 
Source: Telecom
Citizenship: Mexico
The world's richest person for a second year in a row, the Mexican telecom mogul is also the year's biggest gainer, having added $20.5 billion to his fortune and widened the gap between him and No. 2, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, to $18 billion. A 19% rise in the Mexican stock market, a stronger peso, and successful mining and real estate spinoffs from conglomerate Grupo Carso all contributed to the astonishing increase. He also merged his fixed-line telecom company into America Movil, Latin America's largest wireless carrier; the Slim family stake in that holding accounts for 62% of his net worth. He has other holdings in retailer Saks and the New York Times. Recently unveiled a new building for his Soumaya Museum, which houses his vast art collection. It is open to the public for free.

No. 2 Bill Gates

Net Worth: $56 billion ↑ 
Source: Microsoft
Citizenship: U.S.
Microsoft mogul, futurist and America's richest person has, with help from billionaire buddy Warren Buffett, convinced nearly 60 of the world's wealthiest to sign his "Giving Pledge," promising to donate the majority of their wealth to charity either during their lifetime or after death. He is no longer the planet's richest person, but that's because he's given away $30 billion to his foundation. The Gates Foundation, the world's most influential charity, tackles tuberculosis and polio and funds famine-resistant crops to fight hunger. He is calling for a higher sense of urgency in AIDS vaccine development and also pushing for better tools to rate teacher performance. Gates holds 70% of his wealth in investment fund Cascade, dabbling in everything from autos to hedge funds to Mexican Coke bottler Femsa; the rest of his wealth is held in Microsoft stock.

No. 3 Warren Buffett

Net Worth: $50 billion ↑ 
Source: Berkshire Hathaway
Citizenship: U.S.
The venerable investor's Berkshire Hathaway climbed more than 15% over the last year, adding $3 billion to his fortune. The 80-year-old is still hunting big deals:

"Our elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy." Along with bridge partner Bill Gates, the Oracle of Omaha is coaxing America's richest to pledge half their fortunes to charity. "Too often a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse and long-standing friends." Buffett faked breathing problems when he was 12 so he could move back to Omaha from Washington, D.C., where his father was a freshman congressman. He had read every book about investing in stocks in the Omaha Public Library by the time he was 12. He met value investor Benjamin Graham at Columbia; bought textile firm Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, and transformed it into massive holding company: food, insurance, utilities, industrials. Buffett acquired railroad giant Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $26 billion in 2009.

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