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Gates back as world’s richest
* Mukesh wealthiest Indian
* List of billionaires shrinks

New York, March 12
With a fortune of $40 billion, software czar Bill Gates has regained his position as the world’s wealthiest from his friend and legendary investor Warren Buffett, even as the economic crisis wiped off $2 trillion from the wealth of billionaires across the world.

Gates, who himself lost $18 billion in the past one year, is followed by Buffett ($37 billion) at the second and Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim ($35 billion) at the third position, as per the world billionaires’ list released by the US magazine Forbes.

Buffett was ranked as the richest person in the world in last year’s list, followed by Carlos Slim and Gates at the second and third positions, respectively.

There are 793 billionaires in the world now, down about 30 per cent from 1,125 a year ago, while collectively they have become poorer from $4.4 trillion to $2.4 trillion.

There are only two Indians in the list of top 10 richest persons across the world, down from four last year.

Indian petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani has been ranked as the richest among all Indians with a net worth of $19.5 billion, followed by NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal ($19.3 billion).

In the global list, Ambani is ranked seventh (down from fifth last year) and Mittal is at eighth position (fourth in 2008).

Others in the top 10 include software firm Oracle’s chief Lawrence Ellison (4th; $22.5 billion), Sweden’s Ingvar Kamprad (5th; $22 billion), Germany’s Karl Albrecht (6th; $21.5 billion), Germany’s Theo Albrecht (9th; $18.8 billion) and Spain’s Amancio Ortega (10th; $18.3 billion).

The previous year’s list also included Anil Ambani at the sixth position (down to 34th this year) and realty baron KP Singh at the eighth position (down to 98 in this year’s list).

Overall, the presence of the Indians on the list has shrunk to half from 53 last year to 24 in the latest list, Forbes said.

The richest people in the world have also endured a financial disaster over the past year in a world that has become a wealth wasteland.

It is the first time since 2003 that the world has had a net loss in the number of billionaires and their average net worth fell 23 per cent to USD 3 billion. The last time the average was that low was in 2003, Forbes said.

The top three billionaires on the list witnessed a combined wealth erosion of $68 billion. Bill Gates lost $18 billion but it was less than $25 billion lost each by Warren Buffett and Mexican telecom titan Carlos Slim Helu. — PTI

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