Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has deposed Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helu atop Forbes magazine's annual rich list. Forbes put Gates at the head of a table of 1,645 billionaires around the world.
Forbes magazine estimated Gates' net worth at $76 billion (55.2 billion euros), as he returned to the top of the publication's Billionaires List. Gates has held the top spot for 15 of the last 20 years, but had spent the previous four years below Carlos Slim Helu, whose worth was estimated at $72 billion.
Forbes on Monday said that 268 new billionaires joined this year's list, while 100 dropped off the rankings and 16 former members passed away. At 1,645 in total, Forbes had never listed more US-dollar billionaires. The magazine said that 1,080 of the billionaires were self-made.
Spanish clothing magnate Amancio Ortega, whose assets include the Zara retail chain, maintained third position and his spot as the wealthiest European, ahead of famed US investor Warren Buffet in fourth.
The top 10 alone accounted for a net worth of just over $500 billion, or slightly more than the estimated 2012 gross domestic product of Norway, Poland or Belgium.
German supermarket sweep
Karl Albrecht, the 94-year-old founder of the Aldi-Süd supermarket chain also active in English-speaking countries, was Germany's best-placed billionaire, 23rd in line at $25 billion. Theo Albrecht Jr, nephew to Karl and inheritor of the Aldi-Nord chain, and his family placed in 36th. Dieter Schwarz, whose retail empire includes Kaufland and Lidl, was the second-best-placed German in 29th position.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg jumped up to 21st on the list as his net worth more than doubled to $28.5 billion, as Internet moguls continued to climb. Google Inc founders Larry Page ($32.3 billion) and Sergey Brin ($31.8 billion) placed in 17th and 19th, sandwiching Amazon.com Inc's Jeff Bezos ($32 billion).
At 492, the US boasted the most billionaires, followed by China at 152 and Russia on 111. Tycoons from four new countries joined Forbes' nine-naught club; meaning Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda were all represented for the first time.
msh/lw (AFP, AP, Reuters)