China is now home to 64 billionaires – the most of any country outside the US – with 27 of them reaching the $1bn mark for the first time. Newcomers include Li Shufu, who runs Chinese car manufacturer Geely - which is on the verge of buying Volvo from Ford – and Fu Guangming who runs Fuijan Sunner Group which processes chicken for Kentucky Fried Chicken in China. Anyone catering to Chinese consumers is doing very well. The 14 self-made women on the 1,011-strong list have one interesting trend: Seven are in China.
Brazilian mining magnate Eike Batista saw a dramatic increase in his wealth over the year, up $19.5bn to $27bn, the biggest wealth gain of anyone on the list. Overall, the Forbes annual survey reflected a significant return in many billionaire’s fortunes, with the average net worth of those on the list rising from $3bn to $3.5bn, although that is perhaps not surprising as the cut-off date for the 2009 survey was February 13 2009, close to last year’s stock market lows. Aside from Messrs Slim and Gates, investment guru Warren Buffett took third place, with a fortune valued at $47bn, up $10bn from the prior year. Other notable constituents on the list include LVMH chief Bernard Arnualt, Europe’s richest man with a $27.5bn fortune. Ranked seventh, he has seen his fortune rise by $11bn in the last 12 months. Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal saw his fortune increase $9.4bn to $28.7bn, pushing him up two spots to fifth place.
In terms of British billionaires, Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is now worth $1.5bn, while the Duke of Grosvenor and his family remain the wealthiest Britons, with a $12bn fortune, up $1bn in spite of the fall in the value of commercial property. One UK newcomer to the list is hedge fund manager Alan Howard – of Brevan Howard – with a net worth of $1.8bn, while David and Simon Reuben ($7.5bn), Sir Richard Branson ($4bn), and Joe Lewis ($3bn) all saw their fortunes increase in the last 12 months.Read more.
Western world standards for business, such as paying a fair, living wage to employees and paying taxes are increasingly driving good companies out of North America to offshore factories.