Bill Gates' pounds 31bn makes him world's richest man

BILL GATES, the United States Microsoft chief, is the world's richest man, according to a list of the world's 200 most wealthy businessmen. But not one Briton makes the top 100 of the billionaires list published by Forbes Magazine.

Bruno Schroder, a merchant banker, is the first British entry in the new rankings - in joint 111th place - followed by Richard Branson in 173rd. The Schroder family, which controls one of the City's oldest and most prestigious merchant banks, is estimated to be worth pounds 1.7bn.

According to the list, which excludes dictators and royalty, Mr Gates, 42, is worth an estimated $51bn (pounds 31bn). Bill Gates hit the headlines last week after it was revealed that he was buying Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, one of the most famous stately homes and forever associated with Mandy Rice-Davies, Christine Keeler and the Profumo scandal of the Sixties. The Bill Gates consortium has offered pounds 42.8m for Cliveden and a group of properties which also includes Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath.

It is Mr Gates' fourth year at the top of the list. He has been ranked as the third-wealthiest person or private entity ever, beaten only by the Knights Templar and Napoleon Bonaparte. He has been estimated to earn around $500 (pounds 312) a second. He has also been reported as saying he will give away 90 per cent of his wealth during his lifetime.

The fortune of 47-year-old Virgin boss Branson is estimated at pounds 1.16bn, followed by the Rothschild empire, with a pounds 1.1b fortune and Sir Adrian Swire and Sir John Swire, who made their pounds 1.1bn fortune through shipping, aviation and soft drinks.

Bringing up the rear of the list are Associated Newspapers and General Trust boss Viscount Rothermere and Garry Weston, of Association British Foods, both with pounds 9.8bn.

Americans lead the rest of the list, with 12 entries in the top 20. They include the Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart Stores, at pounds 29bn; Michael Dell, boss of the Dell Computer Corp, at pounds 6.1bn; and the Haas family, which runs jeans giant Levi Strauss, at pounds 5bn.

The Top 10

Bill Gates, US, $51bn

Walton family, US, $48bn

Warren Buffett, US, $33bn

Paul Gardner Allen, US, $21bn

Oeri, Hoffman & Sacher family, Switzerland, $17.8bn

Quandt family, Germany, $15.3bn

Kenneth Thomson, Canada, $14.4bn

Forrest Edward Mars Sr and family, US, $13.5bn

Jay A and Robert Pritzker, US, $13.5bn

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, Saudi Arabia,$13.3bn Lee Shau Kee, Hong Kong, $12.7bn

Theo & Karl Albrecht, and family, Germany, $11.7bn

Haniel family, Germany, $11.6bn

Curt Engelhorn,Germany, $11.5bn

Bettencourt family, France, $11.4bn

Steven Ballmer, $10.7bn

Gerard Mulliez and family, France, $10.3 bn

Michael Dell, US, $10bn

Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong, $10bn

Walter Haefner, Switzerland, $9.4bn

Emilio Botin and family, Spain, $9.2bn

Samuel Newhouse Jr and Donald Newhouse, US, $9bn

Philip Anschutz, US,$8.8bn

Cargill family,US, $8.8bn

Seydoux/Schlumberger family, France, $8.8bn