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Business News 2009
Business News->Bill Gates is world's richest man; 355 drop off Forbes' billionaires' list
Bill Gates is world's richest man; 355 drop off Forbes' billionaires' list

By Arun Kumar, Washington, March 12 (IANS)

Bill and Melinda GatesDespite losing $18 billion over the last 12 months, Bill Gates has reclaimed his title as the richest man in the world with a total net worth of $40 billion. As the number of billionaires on the planet shrank, Warren Buffett slipped to No. 2 with $37 billion, after losing $25 billion in the past year due to the decline in value of Berkshire Hathaway stock, according to Forbes' 2009 list of the World's Billionaires. Mexican telecom titan Carlos Slim Helu lost $25 billion, and came in at No. 3.

The top 3 on Forbes' list have lost a combined $68 billion in the past year as the total number of billionaires fell to 793 from 1,125. This marks the first time since 2003 that the number of billionaires worldwide has dropped from one year to the next. The 355 billionaires who fell off the list this year include former AIG chief executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, former head of Citigroup Sandy Weill, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Even among those who have managed to remain billionaires, there has been a vast decrease in wealth: the total net worth of this year's list is $2.4 trillion, down $2 trillion from $4.4 trillion last year. The average billionaire is now worth $3 billion, down from $3.9 billion in 2008.

Anil Ambani (No. 34) was last year's biggest gainer and is this year's biggest loser: he lost $32 billion over the last 12 months. Fellow Indian Lakshmi Mittal (No. 8) also endured significant losses, with $25.7 billion wiped from his personal fortune during the past year.

The 2009 list represents citizens from 52 countries and one principality. As fortunes fell in Asia and Russia, Americans once again dominate the superrich, occupying 10 of the Top 20 spots, up from only four last year. Russia has lost nearly two-thirds of its billionaires during the past year and is down to 32 billionaires. The 10 biggest dollar losers on this year's list lost a combined $238 billion in the past year, more than the GDP of Ireland or Israel.

Still, these tycoons are worth a combined $175 billion, and half of them are still among the 10 richest people on the planet.

Bose speakers firm founder no longer worth a billion

Amar BoseAmar Bose, the Indian American founder-chairman of the famed speakers company Bose Corporation, has dropped off the Forbes magazine's list of the world's billionaires. Bose faced a similar fate in the recent economic downturn, according to the Worcester Business Journal. In the September 2007 list of the richest Americans, Forbes put his net worth at $1.8 billion. By the same time in 2008, that was down to $1.5 billion. Now the wealth held by the former MIT assistant professor has apparently fallen below $1 billion.

According to Forbes, he is believed to own a 60 percent stake in Bose Corp., which, like many companies, has been going through difficult times in recent months. In January, the company announced it would cut 10 percent of its workforce, or about 1,000 jobs. Bose is not alone. Forbes reports that the average worth of the world's billionaires has dropped 23 percent over the past year. The total number of billionaires dropped from 1,125 to 793.

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