Mexican Carlos Slim world's richest in new ranking

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The Independent Online

The world's new richest man, Mexican Carlos Slim, and a fresh crop of billionaires in Asia helped lead a comeback for the wealthiest few on the planet in 2010, Forbes magazine said Wednesday.

The publication's annual rich list reflected a resurgence of wealth after the financial turmoil of 2009, with the top 10 wealthiest worth a combined 342 billion dollars, compared to 254 billion dollars in the previous year.

"The global economy is recovering. The financial markets came back, especially emerging markets," said magazine editor-in-chief Steve Forbes.

"There's a 50 percent increase in general global wealth compared to last year," Forbes said.

Certainly the economy recovered for the super rich, who took a beating during last year's stock and commodity market collapses, but saw across-the-board gains this year.

Forbes counted 1,011 billionaires from 55 countries, up from 793 last year, though still shy of the pre-crisis 1,125 listed in 2008.

Slim, 70, took the top spot for the first time, pushing Microsoft founder Bill Gates out as he rose from third place on the success of America Movil, Latin America's biggest mobile phone operator.

This was the first time since 1994 that a non-US citizen took the spot.

Despite Gates, 54, slipping to second place, the United States remained by far the dominant home of the super-rich, with 403 billionaires, or 40 percent of the world's ten-figure fortunes, down from 45 percent.

That includes number three Warren Buffett, who at 79 is considered one of the most reliable and successful Wall Street investors, and Oracle's Lawrence Ellison, 65, who completed a 7.4-billion-dollar buyout of Sun Microsystems in January.

The list includes 97 fresh billionaires, 62 of them charging out of Asia, a region that saw booming stock markets and several large public offerings in the past year.

Mainland China was for the first time the country with the most billionaires after the United States with 64, including 27 newly minted ones. Including Hong Kong, the Chinese account for 89 billionaires.

Russia comes in third with 62 billionaires, many of them commodities kings who fell off the list last year, only to see their vast natural resource holdings regain value this year.

Europe is still the number two super-wealthy region, with 248 billionaires. The richest European is France's Bernard Arnault, 61, whose LVMH sells Louis Vuitton, Moet & Chandon, and other luxury goods, with his net worth at 27.5 billion dollars.

Just behind Arnault is Spain's Amancio Ortega, owner of the Zara clothing chain, with 25 billion dollars.

Asia trails Europe by only 14 billionaires and the region's net worth of 729 billion dollars is double what it was a year ago.

The region's richest man, oil-and-gas tycoon Mukesh Ambani, 52, climbed to four from seven on the list with a net worth of 29 billion dollars, up 9.5 billion.

Pakistan has its first person on the list, Mian Muhammad Mansha, at number 937 with an even one billion dollars.

Sorted by city, billionaires congregate first in New York, where there are 60, then Moscow at 50, and London at 32.

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