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Business

Who Wants to be a Billionaire?

Forbes magazine has published its annual list of the world's wealthiest people. Bill Gates is still the richest man on earth. Two German brothers have moved up to third place on the list.

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Losing $ 6 billion in one year hasn't had much of an effect on Bill Gates...

If you're planning to marry rich, you might want to try getting your hands on the Forbes list of the world's wealthiest people. Forbes magazine has just published its newest edition of the annual compilation. It lists the names and country of residence of the world's top-billionaires and estimates how big their fortunes are.

Americans dominate Forbes list

The newest Forbes list shows that Microsoft-founder Bill Gates is still the richest man on earth. And even though his fortune shrank by some € 6.9 billion ($ 6 billion) last year due to the economic downturn in the U.S., he's still worth some € 61 billion ($ 52.8 billion).

Nine of the top ten people on the new Forbes list are from the United States. After Bill Gates, the investor Warren Buffett, who heads Berkshire Hathaway Inc., ranks second. According to Forbes, his fortune totals € 40 billion ($ 35 billion).

In third place are two Germans: Karl and Theo Albrecht, who run the country-wide "ALDI" chain of discount supermarkets in Germany.

The life of the Albrecht brothers is a rags-to-riches success story. After the Second World War, they took over their mother's general store in the German city of Essen. Ten years later, they had already spread out to the surrounding towns and opened up a number of new stores. Today, their supermarket chain is a household name all over Germany - and even abroad.

Less is More

Karl and Theo Albrecht's recipe for success seems simple. Their stores are no-frills enterprises: there are no elaborate window displays and there is no decoration whatsoever within the shops.

All merchandise is put on the shelves in the original boxes and cartons it was shipped in.

Customers, however, don't mind. They cherish the unbeatably cheap prices at the ALDI supermarkets. "Our low prices are our best advertisement", say the Albrecht brothers.

Winners and losers

Many of the world's richest people have lost money during the last year due to the slump in the global economy. According to Forbes magazine, the billionaires' average net worth dipped by 100 million dollars since last year. The annual ranking of the world's billionaires also shows that the total number of billionaires dropped from 538 to 497 last year due to the recession.

Many of those who lost big were tycoons of the so-called new economy. Among them were Time Warner Chairman Steve Case, the chairman of Global Crossing, Gary Winnick, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, Scott McNealy and the founders of Yahoo! Inc., Jerry Yang and David Filo.

European winners

Some of those who prospered regardless of the U.S. recession are Europeans. Germany's Albrecht brothers, for instance, managed to increase their fortune by two billion Euro ($ 1.7 billion) in 2001 and moved from fifth place to third on the newest Forbes list.

Spaniard Amancio Ortega also did extremely well. He took his fashion company Inditex public last year. Since then, the company’s value has increased by more than 50 percent.

Looking for Mr. Rich?

For those who want to use the annual Forbes list as a means to find a well-to-do spouse, the magazine has compiled a special service on its internet website: it's put together a slide show of the world's most eligible bachelors.

Since these bachelors range in age from 18 to 73, the compilation includes something for everyone. The youngest billionaire-bachelor is Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis, who inherited one of the world's oldest fortunes last year. The oldest is 73-year-old Fayez Shalaby Sarofim, who was born in Egypt and now lives in the U.S.

Now all you need to do is decide whether you're looking for someone to spend your life with or whether all you want is a quick inheritance...

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