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1. Carlos Slim Helu
\nSlim is a Mexican tycoon of Lebanese descent, whose family emigrated from Lebanon in the early 1900s when the country was part of the Ottoman Empire. Born in Mexico Slim, began working for his father before going on to form his own brokerage firm and then expanded his operations into construction, real estate and mining businesses.
\nAs the price of oil plunged during the 1980s, Slim made shrewd and calculated investment decisions, taking up stakes in various companies in Mexico and also entered new industries like finance and food retailing. His conglomerate, Grupo Carso, SA de CV, went public in 1990 and now includes a diverse portfolio with holdings in communications, technology, retailing, and finance. Slim currently is the chairman and chief executive of telecommunications companies Telmex and America Movil, which operate in eighteen countries across Latin America, the US and the Caribbean.
\nSlim also has stakes in Philip Morris, New York Times, Saks and Caixabank and is a majority shareholder of the Spanish football club Real Oviedo. As Arabian Business goes to press Slim’s estimated net worth is $73.3bn, making him the world’s richest person ahead of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Bernard Arnault of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s biggest luxury-goods company.
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2. Bill Gates
\nThe Harvard University drop out who went on to co-found Microsoft, the world’s biggest software company where he is non-executive chairman, is still America’s richest man. His wealth has increased exponentially in tandem with the booming technology industry from $1.25bn in 1987 when Microsoft’s stock price reached $90.75. Since the Microsoft’s inception in 1975, Gates, along with partner Paul Allen, built an empire on the back of software development anchored by the Windows operating system that later sold additional products like Microsoft Office with its Word and Excel applications.
\nIn addition to Microsoft, Gates founded Corbis, a digital imaging company, in 1989 and in 2004 became a director of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Since shunning his full time position at Microsoft in 2008, Gates has dedicated more of his time to philanthropy giving $28bn to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which he set up with his wife in 2000. The foundation aims to fight poverty and supports education, world health, and invests in low-income communities. Estimated net worth: $62.5bn.
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3. Amancio Ortega
\nSince building the world’s largest clothing retailer, Industrias de Diseño Textil Sociedad Anónima (Inditex Group), the umbrella company to which the Zara chain, Massimo Dutti and other affiliates belong, Ortega, has become Europe’s richest man through his 59 percent stake in the holding group. The company which went public in 2001 has more than 5,500 stores globally. Ortega, 76, who opened his first Zara shop in 1975 and has never given any interviews stepped down as Inditex chairman in 2011. Estimated net worth: $ 53.7bn.
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4. Warren Buffett
\nFrom his humble beginnings when he and a friend owned pinball machines in various barber shops, Buffett, 82, today is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, as well as a philanthropist and one of the most influential people in the world. His company, which is publicly traded, comprises Geico insurance company, Clayton Homes, MidAmerican Energy, Lubrizol and NetJets, in addition to having stakes in Coca-Cola, American Express, Procter & Gamble and Wells Fargo. Buffett has pledged to give away most of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Estimated net worth: $46.8bn.
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5. Ingvar Kamprad
\nAt 86, Kamprad controls IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer. The company is expected to have a sales turnover of ¤27.5bn this year after making than $33bn in revenue in 2011 and $4bn in profit. From its founding in 1983 in the Netherlands, Ikea has become a behemoth employing more than 150,000 people at its 338 stores across the world. Estimated net worth: $42.6bn.
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6. Charles Koch
\nKoch, 77, is the co-owner, chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the US which he and his brother inherited from their father. The Wichita, Kansas-based company has a diverse portfolio operating along various industries including oil refining and chemicals, pipelines, commodities trading, ranching and paper pulp, employing over 60,000 people in 60 countries with annual sales of $110 bn. Koch owns 42 percent of the company. Estimated net worth: $40.3bn.
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7. David Koch
\nKoch, 72, is the co-owner along with his brother Charles and executive vice president of Koch Industries, one of the largest privately held companies in the world, which operates in various industries including oil refining, pipelines, commodities trading and paper pulp. Koch owns 42 percent of the company. He is also a philanthropist contributing in 2007 $100 m to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to help fund the construction of a research and technology facility and has pledged $100m to the New York State Theatre in addition to over $100m to medical research initiatives and centres and provided aide to the Arts. Estimated net worth: $40.3bn.
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8. Larry Ellison
\nLike Bill Gates, the co-founder and CEO of Oracle never finished college. Ellison founded the largest database company in 1977 which now employs about 114,000 people. The company is the third largest software maker by revenue (about $37bn in 2012) after Microsoft and IBM. Ellison owns stakes in Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Quark Biotechnology Inc, educational software maker LeapFrog Enterprises and Astex Pharmaceuticals. Ellison races sailboates, flies planes, play tennis, the guitar and has also given millions of dollars to charity donating large sums to medical research and education. In June of this year he reportedly had agreed to buy 98 percent of the Hawaiian island of Lana’i for as much as $600m.
\n“The secret in software is scale and the associated economies of scale. There are tremendous economies of scale in our business; with scale come huge economies of scale so you can spend more on engineering and charge less for products. Scaling of your business is actually crucial to our strategy and I think will be instrumental in our success,” Ellison said in a 2005 interview with Arabian Business. Estimated net worth: $37.5bn.
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9. Christy Walton
\nThe widow of one of the sons of Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart is the richest woman in the world. On her husband’s death in 2005 Walton, 56, inherited his 9.8 percent stake in Wal-Mart, the American multinational retailer corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores and largest private employer in the US. The company employs more than 2.2 million people across its stores. Wal-Mart’s revenues for 2012 are about $447bn and profit of $15.7bn. Christy also has a 29 percent stake in First Solar, a manufacturer of solar panels. Estimated net worth: $29.7bn.
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10. Jim Walton
\nJim, 64, the youngest son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, heads the family’s private businesses, including Arvest Bank and Community Publisher. Estimated net worth: $28.2bn.