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Richest Peron in the World - Carlos Slim HeluAccording to the 2012 list of the World’s Richest Persons published by Forbes Magazine, there are now 1,226 billionaires worlwide with a total net worth amounting to $4.6 trillion.

The monetary power of these billionaires is as large as the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India, the world’s 2nd most populous nation which registered a 2011 GDP of $4.47 trillion. The combined net worth of the 1,226 billionaires is also way more than the combined GDPs of 127 poorest countries in the world.

The Forbes list is dominated by the same people, with three new ones entering the Top 10 this year.

Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico’s largest telecommunications company Telmex remains as the world’s richest man for the third straight year, despite a $5 billion drop in net worth from last year.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates is still No. 2 while Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet is unchanged at No. 3.

Stefan Persson of Sweden is this year’s 8th richest person, up five notches from No. 13 last year, thanks to continued expansion of apparel brand H&M which he heads.

Re-entering the Top 10 for the first time since 2004 is Asia’s richest person Li Ka-Shing, Chairman of Hutchison Whampoa, a Hong Kong-based conglomerate that runs Watson’s, the world’s largest chain of beauty and health stores, and operates a number of container terminals globally.

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Wrapping up the Top 10 is Karl Albrecht of Germany, owner of Aldi Supermarkets, who was also No. 10 in 2010 but fell to No. 12 in the 2011 richest people list.

Top 10 World’s Richest Persons – 2012

#1. Carlos Slim Helu

Richest Peron in the World - Carlos Slim Helu

  • Net Worth: $69 billion (down from $74 billion in 2010)
  • 2010 Rank: #1
  • Age: 72
  • Fortune: Self made
  • Source: Telecom
  • Country of Citizenship: Mexico
  • Residence: Mexico City, Mexico
  • Industry: Communications
  • Marital Status: widowed, 6 children
  • Education: BA/BS, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Carlos Slim Helu retains the title of world’s richest man for the third year in a row despite a fortune that’s $5 billion smaller than a year ago-primarily ­because of a lower share price for telecom giant America Movil, which accounts for more than half his net worth. In April the company was fined $1 billion by Mexican regulators for monopolistic practices, but is appealing the decision. Slim is spending more time working with his Carlos Slim Foundation and the Telmex Foundation than he has in the past.

#2. William Gates III

Richest People in the World - Bill Gates

  • Net Worth: $61 billion (up from $56 billion in 2010)
  • 2010 Rank: #2
  • Age: 56
  • Fortune: Self made
  • Source: Microsoft
  • Country of Citizenship: United States
  • Residence: Medina, Washington, USA
  • Industry: Software
  • Marital Status: Married, 3 children
  • Education: Dropout, Harvard University

First part of mission accomplished: Bill Gates, the most generous person on the planet (he’s given away $28 billion already), has helped ­eradicate polio in India. In January the country announced its first polio-free year. Gates will continue to chip in $200 million a year to rid the world of a disease that is still endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. His Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also spearheading a malaria vaccine that is showing promise in ­clinical trials. Meanwhile the vaccine-spreading organization he founded, called GAVI, raised $4.3 billion in pledges aimed at distributing drugs to thwart the deadly infections that cause meningitis, pneumonia, and diarrhea in developing countries. He also has a new endeavor in the works: fixing agriculture. His foundation has committed more than $2 billion to small farmers. Less than one-fourth of his net worth is still held in Microsoft, whose shares are trading higher than they have been in 10 years; the rest is in private equity, bonds and stocks such as Ecolab and Mexican broadcaster Televisa.

#3. Warren Buffett

Richest Man in the World - Warren Buffett

  • Net Worth: $44 billion (down from $50 billion in 2010)
  • 2010 Rank: #3
  • Age: 81
  • Fortune: Self made
  • Source: Berkshire Hathaway
  • Country Of Citizenship: United States
  • Residence: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  • Industry: Investments
  • Marital Status: widowed, remarried, 3 children
  • Education: MS, Columbia University; BA/BS, University of Nebraska Lincoln

Warren Buffett announced in February he’d finally made the decision about who will replace him, but he wouldn’t give a name. In December, he chose his farmer son, Howard, as the future non-executive chairman and “guardian of the firm’s values.” New Senate legislation requiring the rich to pay at least a 30% tax rate has been dubbed the “Buffett Rule” in homage to the billionaire’s frequent public statements that the wealthiest should pay more than the average Joe. His net worth is down $6 billion year on year because of a 7% slump in Berkshire’s stock. In his latest annual letter he confessed to some mistakes, including being “dead wrong” about a housing comeback.

#4. Bernard Arnault

Richest Man in the World - Bernard Arnault

  • Net Worth: $41 billion (no change from last year)
  • 2010 Rank: #4
  • Age: 63
  • Fortune: Inherited and growing
  • Source: Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH)
  • Country of Citizenship: France
  • Residence:Paris, France
  • Marital Status: Married; five children
  • Education: BA/BS, Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne

Bernard Arnault orchestrated another stellar year for his luxury-goods empire, LVMH. Profits jumped 22%, thanks to record sales at Louis Vuitton and the successful integration of Bulgari. The group formed a joint venture with one of the world’s leading tanneries of crocodile leather, Heng Long. Arnault hasn’t done as well with his more pedestrian investment in supermarket chain Carrefour, which is worth $1 billion less than it was a year ago. Among his personal high-end collection: He owns Indigo Island in the Bahamas (rent: $300,000 a week) and ski chalet Cheval Blanc in Courchevel.

#5. Amancio Ortega

Richest Man in the World - Amancio Ortega

  • Net Worth: $37.5 billion (up from $31 billion in 2010)
  • 2010 Rank: #7
  • Age: 75
  • Fortune: Self-made
  • Source: Zara
  • Country of Citizenship: Spain
  • Residence: La Coruna, Spain
  • Marital Status: Married; three children

Ortega stepped down as chairman of his global fashion firm, Inditex, in July 2011. The company hasn’t missed a beat. Shares are up one-fourth in the past year, helping boost his fortune by $6.5 billion and pushing him into the global top 5 ranks for the first time. Ortega paid $536 million to billionaire Esther Koplowitz in December for Torre Picasso, a 43-story skyscraper in Madrid. He also owns Epic Residences & Hotel, a luxury 54-story waterfront condo and hotel development in Miami. Other personal holdings include a stake in a soccer league and a horse-jumping circuit. A railway worker’s son, he started as a gofer in a shirt store.

#6. Larry Ellison

Richest People in the World - Lawrence Ellison

  • Net Worth: $36 (down from $39.5 billion in 2010)
  • 2010 Rank: #5
  • Age: 67
  • Fortune: Self-made
  • Source: Oracle
  • Country of Citizenship: United States
  • Residence: Woodside, California, USA
  • Marital Status: Thrice divorced, remarried; two children
  • Education: Dropout, University of Chicago; Dropout, University of Illinois at Urbana

Oracle’s stock has been oscillating for months. It’s rebounded since its August low but is still off 15% year on year due to a slowdown in the software and hardware giant’s sales, enough to knock $3.5 billion off Ellison’s fortune. Seeking to profit from cloud computing, Oracle acquired Taleo in February for $1.9 billion and RightNow in October for $1.5 billion. Ellison has been tagged as one of the clutch of billionaires interested in buying the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. His big sport is yachting: he won the America’s Cup in 2010 and is bringing the 34th edition of the America’s Cup Finals to the San Francisco Bay in 2013.

#7. Eike Batista

Richest Man in the World - Eike Batista

  • Net Worth: $30 billion (no change from last year)
  • 2010 Rank: #8
  • Age: 55
  • Fortune: Self-made
  • Source: Mining, Oil
  • Country of Citizenship: Brazil
  • Residence: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Marital Status: Divorced, two children
  • Education: Dropout, RWTH Aachen University

Eike Batista, Brazil’s richest man, is riding high on oil fever. His oil and gas driller, OGX Petroleo e Gas, produced its first oil in a test well offshore in late January; his 61% stake in the company is worth $19.8 billion, two-thirds of his net worth. The bombastic entrepreneur is also betting on his former passion, gold: In February 2011 he spent $1.5 billion to take private Canadian-listed Ventana Gold, which owns what he says is an incredibly promising mine in Colombia.

#8. Stefan Persson

Richest Man in the World - Stefan Persson

  • Net Worth: $26 billion (down from $24.5 billion in 2010)
  • 2010 Rank: #13
  • Age: 64
  • Fortune: Inherited and growing
  • Source: H&M
  • Country of Citizenship: Sweden
  • Residence: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Marital Status: Married, three children
  • Education: Associate in Arts / Science, University of Stockholm

Stefan Persson’s cheap-chic ­apparel chain H&M added Versace and Marni to its stable of designers last year and opened its first stores in Croatia, Singapore and Romania. It now has 2,500 shops in 43 countries. Persson, who is chairman, bought 5 million additional shares of the company and then gifted 4 million, worth $150 million, to a new employee ­incentive program. Persson’s father, Erling, founded H&M in 1947; Stefan took over in 1982, he gave up the chief executive position in 1998; promoted son, Karl-Johan, 35, to chief executive in July 2009. Persson acquired the 21-cottage village of Linkenholt in Hampshire, England in 2009.

#9. Li Ka-shing

Richest Asian - Li Kashing

  • Net Worth: $25.5 billion (up from $22 billion in 2010)
  • 2010 Rank: #11
  • Age: 83
  • Fortune: Diversified, self-made
  • Source: Hutchison Whampoa Limited
  • Country of Citizenship: Hong Kong
  • Residence: Hong Kong
  • Marital Status: Widow, two children
  • Education: Drop Out, High School

Li Ka-shing moves back into the top 10 for the first time since 2007. He is Asia’s richest person for the first time since 2004, despite a $500 million drop in net worth. One of the great empire builders, Li’s businesses employ 270,000 ­people around the world in 53 countries; he built one out of every 7 residences in Hong Kong, his ­Hutchison Port ­Holdings handles about 13% of the world’s container traffic, and his recently acquired Northumbrian Water supplies clean drinking water to 4.5 million people in England and sewerage services to ­another 2.7 million. Li also has personal investments in tech startups like Facebook and Spotify.

#10. Karl Albrecht

Richest Person in the World - Karl Albrecht

  • Net Worth: $25.4 billion (down from $25.5 billion in 2010)
  • 2010 Rank: #12
  • Age: 92
  • Fortune: Self-made
  • Source: Aldi Supermarkets
  • Country of Citizenship: Germany
  • Residence: Mulheim an der Ruhr,
  • Marital Status: Married, two children

Karl Albrecht’s $39 billion (estimated sales) discount supermarket giant, Aldi Sud, has some 4,500 stores, including 1,200 across 32 U.S. states. It opened its first New York City locations in 2011, one in Queens and another in the Bronx. To keep costs low, Aldi stores do not accept credit cards. He and his late brother Theo got their start at their mother’s corner grocery store after World War II and turned it into a large retail chain based on low prices in a no-frills setting. They split ownership in 1961; Karl took the more profitable stores in southern Germany, plus the rights to the brand in the U.K., Australia and the U.S.

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