Billionaires defy the worldwide turmoil – and get even richer

Forbes list reveals Mexico's Carlos Slim is still top of the table with a fortune of $69bn

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The Independent Online

The number of billionaires has hit a new, all-time high despite the global economic turmoil.

Forbes – the ultimate publication for the world's super-rich – has counted some 1,226 billionaires across the globe. To qualify, they have to be worth – let's spell it out – $1,000,000,000 (£635.5m) or more.

Between them, all those billionaires own a record $4.6trn of wealth between them, with the richest, Mexico's Carlos Slim, holding on to $69bn. Microsoft's Bill Gates closed in on the telecoms mogul. His pile rose $5bn while Slim's fell by the same amount.

However, British tycoons and heirs were notably absent from the top list.

The best we could muster was the Duke of Westminster who, at No 78, is rubbing by on just $11bn.

Earl Cadogan came next at $4.6bn followed by Sir Richard Branson and James Dyson, both on $4.2bn.

New names to watch included Sara Blakely, whose Spanx bodyshaping undies have earned her a $1bn fortune.

There are 104 women billionaires, most of whom have inherited their wealth, although Chinese property mogul Wu Yajun made her own fortune.

For both sexes, Americans, Indians, Chinese and Russians dominate the lists.

The world's richest man

Carlos Slim ($69bn)


He may be the world's richest man, but you would hardly know it from the looks of this Mexican billionaire. The 72-year-old shuns a lavish lifestyle, still driving himself around the chaotic streets of Mexico City – albeit with a convoy of security cars behind him. His one indulgence is his vast art collection, now on show in his museum in the capital. Slim made most of his money in the telecoms industry. The 72-year-old widower's empire now stretches from banking and insurance to mining and retail.