Telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu with a net worth up $18.5 billion makes it to the number one spot on Forbes Magazine’s 24th ranking of the world’s richest people. This year the World's Billionaires have an average net worth of $3.5 billion, up $500 million in 12 months. Globally, there are 1,011 ten-figure titans, up from 793 a year ago but still shy of the record 1,125 in 2008. Of those billionaires on last year's list, only 12% saw their fortunes decline.
US billionaires still dominate the ranking but their grip is slipping. Americans account for 40% of the world's billionaires, down from 45% a year ago. Of the 97 new members of the list, only 16% are from the US. By contrast, Asia made big gains. The region added 104 moguls and now has just 14 fewer than Europe, thanks to several large public offerings and swelling stock markets.
The new billionaires include American Isaac Perlmutter, who sold Marvel Entertainment to Disney for $4 billion last December. The Spider-Man mogul netted nearly $900 million in cash and 20 million shares of Disney in the transaction. Also new to the ranking: 27 billionaires from China, including Li Shufu, whose automaker, Geely, announced plans to buy Swedish brand Volvo from Ford in December. The deal is expected to close in March 2010. Finland and Pakistan both welcomed their first billionaires.
For the first time China (including Hong Kong) has the most billionaires outside the US with 89. Russia has 62 billionaires, 28 of them returnees who had fallen off last year's list amid a meltdown in commodities. Total returnees to the list this year: 164.
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