Bezos, Buffett, Gates are the world's leading billionaires
Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world.
For the first time in five years, Bill Gates is no longer the richest person on the planet.
As the world added 437 new members to its elite Billionaire Club in 2017 -- more than one a day -- the UAE witnessed the emergence of three new billionaires: all from Dubai.
Ranked 20th globally in billionaire population, the UAE expanded its line-up of ultra rich people to 24 in 2017 with Dubai, the world's 24th billionaire city, home to 19 of them.
Hurun Global Rich List 2018, a ranking of the US-dollar-billionaires in the world released on Thursday, ranked a total of 2,694 billionaires from 68 countries and from 2,157 companies in another record-breaking year for the world's billionaires.
While Jeff Bezos of Amazon added $51 billion to his fortune to storm his way as the world's wealthiest with a total of $123 billion, Bill Gates saw his ranking slipping to third with Warren Buffet overtaking him with a 31 per cent jump in wealth.
Total billionaire wealth increased by an astounding 31 per cent to $10.5 trillion, equivalent to 13.2 per cent of global GDP, and almost double the seven per cent of global GDP six years ago. Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, said, "Never has so much wealth been concentrated in the hands of so few."
"It has been an outstanding year for billionaires: 1508 saw their wealth increase and there were 567 new faces," said the report.
Chinese billionaires are pulling away from the USA for the third year running, 819 compared with 571. Just two years ago, they were neck and neck at 534 and 535. "China is going through an amazing period of entrepreneurship, adding 210 billionaires in the past year," said Hoogewerf.
For India, it has been a good year to claim back its third place from Germany after adding 31 billionaires on the back of a record performance of stock markets.
Reasons for this whopping surge in billionaire wealth are not hard to figure out, say analysts.
"A boom in China, a weak dollar and a 26 per cent hike in Nasdaq have led to a surge in dollar billionaires across the world. The US dollar depreciated 16 per cent against the Euro, 12 per cent against the British pound, 10 per cent against the Chinese yuan and six per cent against the Indian rupee. Global economic growth was at three per cent last year, the fastest rate since 2011 and a significant acceleration compared with 2.4 per cent the previous year."
There were 19 new entrants to the Top 100, led by Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers of L'Oreal who inherited the wealth from her mother Liliane. Others include India's Gautam Adani, who doubled his wealth to $14 billion.
Seven of the top 10 billionaires are from the USA. Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg led the charge, adding $51 billion, $24 billion and $21 billion respectively. Larry Page, 44, of Google broke into the world's Top 10 for the first time, and Bernard Arnault, 68, of LVMH returned to the Top 10, doubling his wealth to $78 billion. The Top 10 grew 37 per cent on average.
Bezos, 54, shot up to world number one for the first time after Amazon stock rose 70 per cent year on year. Bezos becomes the third "Number One" in six years, after Carlos Slim and Bill Gates. Bezos first broke into the Hurun Top 10 two years ago.
Buffett, 87, retains No.2 spot with a 31 per cent increase in his wealth, and to becoming the second person ever to break through the $100 billion barrier. Gates, 62, dropped down to third place after donating $4.6 billion worth of Microsoft shares to his foundation, reducing his stake to just 1.3 per cent from 24 per cent in 1996. Nevertheless, Gates's wealth increased by 11% to $90 billion backed by the performance of his investment portfolio. "For the first time in five years, Gates is no longer the richest person on the planet."
Mark Zuckerberg, 33, up one to fourth, saw his wealth grow 36 per cent to $79 billion, on the back of a hike in Facebook's share price. Bernard Arnault, 68, returns to the Top 10 after his wealth doubled to $78 billion. Amancio Ortega, 81, of Zara down two to sixth place, despite a six per cent increase to $73 billion. Daughter Sandra, 48, also makes the list, ranked 313 with US$6.3 billion. Carlos Slim Helu, 78, maintained seventh place despite a 46 per cent increase to $67 billion. Larry Ellison, 73, of Oracle is down two spots to eighth, despite his wealth increasing by 13 per cent to $54 billion. Larry Page, 44, is up three places to break into the Top 10 for the first time, on the back of a 35 per cent increase in his wealth to $50 billion.
With a net worth of $49 billion, Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, 76, saw his wealth increase by 17 per cent to keep him in the Top 10. Donald Trump, the highest-profile billionaire politician, has seen his wealth drop by $1 billion to $3 billion, dropping him down 352 places to 747.