March 3, 2014

Gates tops billionaire rankings as Alice Walton remains top Texan

The four Bass brothers, H. Ross Perot and his son, Jerry Jones and Ray Davis are among the notable North Texans ranked by Forbes magazine among the world’s billionaires.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is back on top of the list of the world’s richest people after a four-year hiatus. And Alice Walton of Fort Worth remains the wealthiest Texan, according to the ranking of the world’s billionaires released by Forbes magazine on Monday.

Gates, who led the list for 15 of the past 20 years, won the spot back from Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, who had topped the list for the past four years. Gates’ net worth is estimated at $76 billion; Slim Helu follows at $72 billion.

Spanish clothing magnate Amancio Ortega, known for the Zara retail chain, maintained his third-ranked spot and came out ahead of famed U.S. investor Warren Buffett, who runs Berkshire Hathway, ranked fourth. Walton was one of six heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune on the list.

Forbes says a record 1,645 billionaires made the list this year, with an average net worth of $4.7 billion. That’s up from 1,426 billionaires last year with a net worth of $4.2 billion. Total net worth of this year’s list was $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion last year.

In Fort Worth, the four Bass brothers all made the list again. Robert Bass had the highest net worth, at $2.8 billion, followed by Ed, with $2.1 billion; Lee, at $2.1 billion and Sid, at $1.9 billion.

Private equity king David Bonderman, a co-founder of TPG Capital, was listed with $2.8 billion.

Dallas-Fort Worth sports moguls are part of the billionaire crowd too. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones leads the pack at $3 billion in net worth, followed by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban at $2.6 billion and Ray Davis, a co-owner of the Texas Rangers, at $1.6 billion. Fort Worth oilman Bob Simpson, the other Rangers co-owner, was not on the list.

The magazine said that 1,080 of the billionaires were self-made, 207 inherited their wealth and 352 inherited a portion but are still growing it.

The largest net worth gainer on the list was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who more than doubled his fortune to $28.5 billion as the value of his company’s stock soared. He ranked 21st overall.

The social media giant helped bring a few notable newcomers to the list, including Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton, who recently sold their business to Facebook for $19 billion.

Forbes said 268 billionaires were new to the list, beating out a prior high of 226 newcomers in 2008. And a record 172 women made the list this year, up 25 percent from last year.

Altogether 100 people dropped out of the rankings, while 16 passed away.

The U.S. was the country with the greatest number of billionaires at 492, followed by China with 152 and Russia with 111. Billionaires from four new countries joined, adding Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda to the geographic mix.

Staff writer Steve Kaskovich contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.

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