Meet the world’s 8 richest men who own as much as poorest 50%

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg make the list

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The Independent Online

There are just eight men who collectively own as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population, new research from Oxfam has shown.

The charity warns that the gap between the super-rich and the very poor has widened greatly in the space of a year. In 2016, it was the world’s 62 richest people whose combined wealth equated that of the poorest 3.6 billion on the planet.

Here we look at the world’s richest men and the philanthropic donations they make with their earnings. 

Bill Gates

Bill Gates, the world’s richest man who dropped out of Harvard to co-found Microsoft in the mid-70s, is worth $75 billion (£62 billion). He helped to grow the company into the world’s biggest software firm, making computers a household item along the way.

He quit as CEO in 2000 and founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, gradually reducing his ownership of Microsoft to less than three per cent. Mr Gates promised to give the majority of his fortune to charity, and has donated more than $30 billion (£25 billion) to his philanthropic foundation since it was created. To date, the foundation has given $35 billion (£29 billion) in grants to causes aimed at fighting global issues from disease to poverty, Bloomberg reports. 

Amancio Ortega

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The richest person in Europe, Amancio Ortega opened the first Zara fashion shop in 1975. Now, the chain, part of Ortega's Inditex group, has 7,000 shops globally. As Zara and Inditex grew in size, Ortega held on to a majority stake of 59 percent in the company, which has a market value of over €97 billion (£85 billion), and he is worth $67 billion (£55 billion). In 2001 he set up the Amancio Ortega Foundation which develops education and social assistance projects in Spain. The foundation last year bought 25 oncology radiotherapy linear accelerators for Andalusia’s public health system, through a donation of around €40m (£35m).

Warren Buffett

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Warren Buffett, known as the Oracle of Omaha for his closely followed investment decisions, is worth $60.8 billion (£50 billion). Now 86-years-old, Mr Buffett began investing as a teenager in the 1940s, gradually growing his company Berkshire Hathaway into the company it is today. Mr Buffet’s philanthropic giving is recorded at $25,540m (£21,180m) over the course of his lifetime, with his annual giving set at $2,840m (£2,352m), according to Forbes. Part of his charity donations come from his Berkshire Hathaway stock, of which about five per cent is given to charity each summer, including to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to Bloomberg. He also started the Giving Pledge with Mr Gates, which encourages the world’s wealthiest people to donate the majority of their money to charity. 

Carlos Slim Helu

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Carlos Slim Helu owes his $50 billion (£41 billion) fortune to a major ownership in America Movil, a telecommunications multinational worth $42 billion. Forbes reports the Carlos Slim Foundation has donated a total of $4,000m (£3,314m). The foundation focuses on improving people’s access to education, sports and culture, in addition to investing in a number of causes such as the Carso Health Institute, which was created to help fund health-related projects and research in Latin America. Last year he created a free online education app, Apprende, which provides free access to 72 education courses to anyone with an internet connection.  Outside of the foundation, he has worked with Bill Clinton and has personally donated between $1m and $5m to the Clinton Foundation.

Jeff Bezos

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is worth $42.2 billion (£35 billion). After his online retail giant expanded from an online book shop to selling almost anything he expanded his personal reach beyond the company, buying the Washington Post and setting up an aerospace company, Blue Origin. Mr Bezos’ total philanthropic giving is reportedly $100m (£83m), according to December 2016 data from Forbes. Last year he matched £1m in donations for the Mary’s Place charity supporting homeless women, children and families in Seattle. The Bezos Family Foundation, which is run by Mr Bezos’ parents, has given around $30m (£25m) to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre since 2009, Geekwire reports

Mark Zuckerberg

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Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 while a college student to connect Harvard students. The company went on to become popular globally and listed its shares publicly in 2012, and Zuckerberg, now 32, is worth $44.6 billion (£37 billion). Mr Zuckerberg has given $1,600m (£1,325m) to philanthropic causes in his lifetime, Forbes reports, with his annual giving set at $126m (£104m). He has signed up to the Giving Pledge and has promised to give away 99 per cent of his Facebook shares to charitable causes. The shares have been put into the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which the Facebook founder said in 2016 would invest $3 billion (£2.5 billion) over the next 10 years to help “cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children’s lifetime”.

Larry Ellison

As a young programmer in the 1970s, Larry Ellison’s first big client was the CIA. The name of the project was “Oracle” and in 1977, Mr Ellison and his associates used the name for their company which creates the industry standard in database management software. Mr Ellison is now worth $43.6 billion (£36 billion) and has donated $564m (£467m) of his money over his lifetime, with his annual philanthropic donations recorded at $56m (£46m), Forbes reports. In 2016 he helped create the Lawrence J Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine at the University of Southern California when he donated $200m (£165m) to the institution.

Michael Bloomberg

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Michael Bloomberg, who used his severance package from an investment bank to start up Bloomberg LP, is worth $40 billion (£33 billion). According to Forbes, Mr Bloomberg has given $4,220m (£3,495m) to philanthropic causes, an average of $510m (£422m) per year. Through his foundation, the former New York City mayor gave a total of $360m (£298m) to a number of organisations in 2016 including the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, The Johns hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 

Additional reporting by AP

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