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World economy

Number of billionaires rises despite economic crisis

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

US business magazine Forbes has published its annual international billionaires list. Despite economic crisis and austerity policies in much of the world, the number of billionaires has risen.

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The richest man in the world is Mexican telecoms' tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, who is worth 74 billion dollars (54 billion euros).

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Slim topped the list last year, but this year increased his fortune by 20 point 5 billion dollars.

In second place Microsoft founder Bill Gates with 56 billion dollars (40 billion euros). Forbes notes that Gates gives away a lot of his money.

In third place, US investment guru Warren Buffett,with 50 billion dollars (36 billion euros).

And in fourth place, up from tenth, Bernard Arnault head of French luxury goods group LVMH with 41 billion dollars (30 billion euros).

The total world population of billionaires has risen this year to 1,210 from 1,011 last year.

Editor Steve Forbes says that regional differences in the list reflect the extraordinary changes taking place in the global economy.

With two out of the top four, most billionaires hail from the United States which is home to just over 33 per cent of the world's megarich, but that is down from about five years ago.

The Asia-Pacific region is on the rise and has overtaken Europe for the first time.

The number of billionaires in China almost doubled in the last twelve months from 69 to 115.

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