What GFC? Billionaires get richer

THE number of billionaires has hit a new, all-time high despite the global economic turmoil.

Forbes - the ultimate publication for the world's super-rich - has counted some 1,226 billionaires across the globe.

To qualify, they have to be worth - let's spell it out - US$1,000,000,000 or more.

Between them, all those billionaires own a record $4.6 trillion of wealth between them, with the richest, Mexico's Carlos Slim, holding on to $69 billion.

Microsoft's Bill Gates closed in on the telecoms mogul. His pile rose $5 billion while Slim's fell by the same amount.

However, British tycoons and heirs were notably absent from the top list, however. The best they could muster was the Duke of Westminster who, at No 78, is rubbing by on just $11 billion.

Earl Cadogan came next at $4.6 billion followed by Sir Richard Branson and James Dyson, both on $4.2 billion.

New names to watch included Sara Blakely, whose Spanx bodyshaping undies have earned her a $1 billion fortune.

There are 104 women billionaires, most of whom have inherited their wealth, although Chinese property mogul Wu Yajun made her own fortune.

For both sexes, Americans, Indians, Chinese and Russians dominate the lists.



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