Web moguls, Spanx whiz among Forbes billionaires

Wed Mar 7, 2012 6:19pm EST
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By Edith Honan and Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim retained his position atop Forbes magazine's annual list of the world's billionaires on Wednesday with an estimated worth of $69 billion, while his Mexican rival Ricardo Salinas Pliego enjoyed the largest increase in wealth.

Microsoft Corp cofounder Bill Gates ranked second at $61 billion and Warren Buffett third at $44 billion. France's Bernard Arnault, the richest person in Europe, repeated at No. 4. They were the same top four as last year.

The youngest self-made woman at age 41 was Spanx founder Sara Blakely, whose net worth of $1 billion from her business of making slimming undergarments affirmed there was profit in vanity. Blakely, ranking at No. 1,153, was among 104 women on the list.

Fifty-eight countries were represented on the list of a record 1,226 billionaires whose average fortune was $3.7 billion. Some 128 billionaires were new to the Forbes rankings this year, including Colombia's Alejandro Santo Domingo, 35, the richest new billionaire in the world ($9.5 billion) and the face of Santo Domingo Group after last year's death of his father.

In addition to the usual aging plutocrats and heirs, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 27, ranked 35th with a net worth of $17.5 billion. The social media heavyweight announced plans last month for an IPO that would value Facebook at a projected $100 billion.

Zuckerberg jumped 17 spots and $4 billion while the combined value of seven Facebook billionaires was $28.7 billion, including the $3.5 billion belonging to Dustin Moskovitz, 27, Zuckerberg's former Harvard roommate who was listed as the youngest self-made man.

Notable drop-offs included "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, whose wealth fell below $1 billion due in part to Britain's high tax rates and an estimated $150 million in charitable giving.

Also falling off was Jim Balsillie, the former co-CEO and co-chairman of Canada's Research In Motion, the troubled maker of BlackBerry.   Continued...

Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim retains his position atop Forbes magazine's annual list of the world's billionaires with an estimated worth of $69 billion.

REUTERS/Tomas Bravo