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Business

Bill Gates tops 2015 Forbes Magazine rich list

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has remained on top of the widely-watched Forbes List of the ten richest people in 2015, leaving Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu in second place for the second year in a row.

According to the 2015 Forbes List released on Monday, Bill Gates' net worth rose to $79.2 billion (70.54 billion euros) from $76 billion a year earlier, putting the Microsoft founder at the top for the 16th year in the last 21.

Mexico telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helu ranked second, at $77.1 billion, while Warren Buffett, chief of US investment firm Berkshire Hathaway, was third at $72.7 billion.

Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of Inditex, which includes clothing retailer Zara, was fourth at $64.5 billion, while Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison was fifth at $54.3 billion.

Forbes Magazine, which has compiled the list for 29 years, said it calculated each person's net worth based on stock prices and exchange rates on Feb. 13, 2014. It also noted that it had found a record 1,826 billionaires in the world last year. Among them were 290 newcomers, including 71 from China.

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Winners and 'losers'

According to the magazine, the average net worth of people on the list is $3.86 billion - down $60 million from the 2014 average.

Warren Buffett's fortune grew $14.5 billion from a year earlier, making the 'Oracle of Omaha's' wealth grow faster than anyone else's, despite his having donated $2.8 billion to several charities last July.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg rose to 16th place from 21st last year, as his net worth grew to $33.4 billion. The youngest billionaires were Evan Spiegel, 24, and Bobby Murphy, 25, who co-founded mobile messaging app Snapchat. Forbes estimated their fortunes to be $1.5 billion each.

Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian who became Africa's richest man through cement manufacturing and commodities such as flour and sugar, was the biggest loser, falling $10.3 billion in a single year, down to $14.7 billion.

Male dominance

In 2015, a record 197 women were billionaires, with the highest-ranked being the heiress of US retailer Wal Mart, Christy Walton, in eighth place with a net worth of $41.7 billion.

France's Liliane Bettencourt, an heiress who got much of her wealth from cosmetics company L'Oreal, was tenth at $40.1 billion.

A prominent name amongst the also-rans is former US basketball star Michael Jordan, who ranked 1,741st place with a net worth of $1 billion. The 52-year-old is majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team, but is better known for his contract with sportsgear maker Nike, which markets a line of gym shoes called 'Air Jordan'.

In national terms, the United States had the most billionaires, with 536, followed by China at 213, Germany at 103, and India at 90. Russia, which is struggling with currency and oil market turmoil, saw its collection of billionaires fall to 88 from 111.

uhe/nz (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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