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Bad Year For Billionaires

Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates
AP
Not even a $5.9 billion loss could topple Bill Gates as the richest man on the planet.

The Microsoft co-founder topped Forbes magazine's ranking of the world's richest billionaires for the 8th straight year, even as his net worth fell 10 percent from a year ago to $52.8 billion.

Gates remained comfortably ahead of Warren Buffett, who held the No. 2 spot with $35 billion, according to the 16th annual ranking released Thursday.

It was a list most notable for its losers.

The number of billionaires dropped by 83 this year to 497 as recession and fallout from the terrorist attacks reduced their wealth. The group's combined worth fell to $1.54 trillion, from $1.73 trillion last year.

Among the missing: AOL Time Warner Chairman Steve Case, whose company's stock has declined by about half since last year, and Gary Winnick, chairman of Global Crossing, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

It was the second year of decline in the number of billionaires since a downturn in the technology sector began pressuring the world economy. The largest drop - 91 - came last year.

"Talk about churn, creation and destruction at work," said Louisa Kroll, who edited Forbes' March billionaires issue, which was to hit the newsstands Friday. "For two years in a row, it's been falling fortunes."

German retailers Theo and Karl Albrecht climbed two notches to No. 3, with a net value of $26.8 billion. They pushed Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, ranked third last year with a value of $30.4 billion, to No. 4. He lost $5.2 billion, partly in the stock market bust.

Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison had the fifth spot, while five heirs of the Wal-Mart fortune created by founder Sam Walton rounded out the top 10.

Only 25 people on the list are under 40, led by 37-year-old computer founder Michael Dell at No. 18. The highest-ranking woman was No. 8, Alice Walton, with assets of $20.5 billion.

The list was set using stock prices and exchange rates as of Feb. 4.

The United States had more people on the list than any other country, with 243 billionaires, down from 272 last year. Their combined net worth fell by $111 billion. One of the bigger losers was CNN founder Ted Turner, now a vice chairman at AOL Time Warner, whose net worth was cut in half to $3.8 billion. He dropped 62 places on the list to No. 97.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder of the financial information company that bears his name, saw his ranking move up 10 places to No. 72, with $4.4 billion in assets. He moved up despite spending $70 million of his own money to win his first political campaign last fall, and losing a total of $100 million during the year.

Europe had 121 billionaires, headed by the Albrechts and Germany's Johanna Quandt and family, whose 46 percent ownership of automaker BMW helped put them at No. 12.

Japan's Yasuo Takei and family dropped 14 places to No. 51, with their country battling deflation and a decade-long economic slowdown. Japan accounted for five of Asia's 15 former billionaires who dropped from the list this year.

Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud was No. 11.

Of the 497 total billionaires from 43 countries, 260 inherited some or all of their wealth, and the rest made their money themselves. Twenty-seven are college dropouts.

Here's the Forbes list. Listings include rank, name, home country, age where known, wealth in billions of dollars and source of the money.

1. Gates, William H. III, United States, 46, $52.8, Microsoft

2. Buffett, Warren E., United States, 71, $35.0, Berkshire Hathaway

3. Albrecht, Karl and Theo, Germany, $26.8, retail

4. Allen, Paul G., United States, 49, $25.2, Microsoft

5. Ellison, Lawrence J., United States, 57, $23.5, Oracle

6. Walton, Jim C., United States, 54, $20.8, Wal-Mart

7. Walton, John T., United States, 56, $20.7, Wal-Mart

8. Walton, Alice L., United States, 53, $20.5, Wal-Mart

8. Walton, S. Robson, United States, 58, $20.5, Wal-Mart

10. Walton, Helen R., United States, 82, $20.4, Wal-Mart

11. Alsaud, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Saudi Arabia, 45, $20.0, investments

12. Quandt, Johanna and family, Germany, 74, $18.4, BMW

13. Bettencourt, Liliane, France, 79, $14.9, L'Oreal

13. Thomson, Kenneth and family, Canada, 78, $14.9, publishing

15. Ballmer, Steven A., United States, 45, $14.8, Microsoft

16. Kamprad, Ingvar, Sweden, 75, $13.4, Ikea

17. Slim Helu, Carlos, Mexico, 62, $11.5, telecom

18. Dell, Michael S., United States, 37, $11.1, Dell

19. Rausing, Kirsten and family, Sweden, 49, $10.7, packaging

20. Kluge, John W., United States, 87, $10.5, media

21. Anthony, Barbara Cox, United States, 78, $10.1, media

21. Chambers, Anne Cox, United States, 82, $10.1, media

23. Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong, 73, $10.0, diversified

24. Kwok, Walter, Thomas and Raymond, Hong Kong, $9.2, real estate

25. Ortega, Amancio, Spain, 66, $9.1, apparel

26. Mars, Forrest E. Jr., United States, 70, $9.0, candy

26. Mars, Jacqueline Badger, United States, 63, $9.0, candy

26. Mars, John F., United States, 65, $9.0, candy

29. Johnson, Abigail, United States, 40, $8.6, Fidelity

29. Saji, Nobutada and family, Japan, 56, $8.6, beverages

31. Bertarelli, Ernesto and family, Switzerland, 36, $8.4, biotech

32. Redstone, Sumner M., United States, 78, $8.1, Viacom

33. Rausing, Hans, Sweden, 75, $7.7, packaging

34. Olayan, Suliman and family, Saudi Arabia, 83, $7.6, investments

35. Berlusconi, Silvio, Italy, 65, $7.2, media

36. Arnault, Bernard, France, 53, $7.0, LVMH

37. Soros, George, United States, 71, $6.9, money management

38. Grosvenor, Gerald Cavendish, Britain, 50, $6.7, real estate

39. Del Vecchio, Leonardo, Italy, 66, $6.6, eyewear

40. Otto, Michael and family, Germany, 58, $6.5, retail

41. Premji, Azim, India, 56, $6.4, software

42. Ergen, Charles, United States, 49, $6.2, satellite TV

43. Moore, Gordon Earle, United States, 73, $6.1, Intel

44. Kerkorian, Kirk, United States, 84, $5.8, investments

45. Al-Kharafi, Nasser and family, Kuwait, 58, $5.7, construction

45. Knight, Philip H., United States, 64, $5.7, Nike

45. Murdoch, Rupert, United States, 71, $5.7, News Corp.

48. Engelhorn, Curt, Germany, 75, $5.6, pharmaceuticals

48. Persson, Stefan, Sweden, 54, $5.6, Hennes & Mauritz

50. Flick, Friedrich K. Jr., Germany, 75, $5.5, investments

51. Broad, Eli, United States, 68, $5.2, real estate

51. Lee Shau Kee, Hong Kong, 74, $5.2, real estate

51. Takei, Yasuo and family, Japan, 72, $5.2, consumer finance

54. Anschutz, Philip F., United States, 62, $5.1, Qwest

55. Cisneros, Gustavo and family, Venezuela, 56, $5.0, media

55. Haefner, Walter, Switzerland, 91, $5.0, software

55. Icahn, Carl, United States, 66, $5.0, investments

55. Newhouse, Donald E., United States, 72, $5.0, media

55. Newhouse, Samuel I. Jr., United States, 74, $5.0, media

55. Pritzker, Robert A., United States, 75, $5.0, hotels, investments

55. Pritzker, Thomas J., United States, 51, $5.0, hotels, investments

62. Benetton, Luciano and family, Italy, 66, $4.9, Benetton

62. Dassault, Serge and family, France, 77, $4.9, aviation

64. Goodnight, James, United States, 59, $4.8, software

64. Landolt, Pierre and family, Switzerland, 54, $4.8, Novartis

64. von Finck, August, Germany, 71, $4.8, investments

67. Lerner, Alfred, United States, 68, $4.7, banking

68. Omidyar, Pierre M., United States, 34, $4.6, eBay

68. Tsai Wan-lin and family, Taiwan, 77, $4.6, insurance

70. Johnson, Samuel C., United States, 73, $4.5, S.C. Johnson & Son

70. Schickedanz daughters, Germany, $4.5, retail

72. Bloomberg, Michael R., United States, 59, $4.4, financial news

72. Davis, Marvin H., United States, 76, $4.4, investments

72. Mendoza, Lorenzo and family, Venezuela, 36, $4.4, beverages

72. Plattner, Hasso, Germany, 58, $4.4, SAP

76. de Carvalho, Charlene, Netherlands, 47, $4.3, Heineken

76. Gerling, Rolf, Germany, 47, $4.3, insurance

76. Johnson, Edward C III, United States, 71, $4.3, Fidelity

76. Mohn, Reinhard, Germany, 80, $4.3, media

76. Sainsbury, David and family, Britain, 61, $4.3, supermarkets

76. Wertheimer, Alain and Gerard, France, $4.3, Chanel

82. von Holtzbrinck, Dieter and family, Germany, 60, $4.2, publishing

82. Weston, Galen and family, Canada, 61, $4.2, retail

84. Irving, James, Arthur and John, Canada, $4.1, oil

84. Kuok, Robert, Malaysia, 79, $4.1, agriculture

84. Schwab, Charles R., United States, 64, $4.1, Charles Schwab

87. Al-Hariri, Rafik and family, Lebanon, 58, $4.0, construction

87. Annenberg, Walter H., United States, 93, $4.0, publishing

87. Bren, Donald L., United States, 69, $4.0, real estate

87. Geffen, David, United States, 59, $4.0, entertainment

87. Halley, Paul Louis and family, France, 67, $4.0, retail

87. Karamehmet, Mehmet and family, Turkey, 48, $4.0, finance, telecom

87. Oetker, Rudolf August and family, Germany, 85, $4.0, food

87. Safra, Joseph and Moise, Brazil, $4.0, banking

87. Warner, H. Ty, United States, 58, $4.0, Beanie Babies

96. Perot, Henry Ross, United States, 71, $3.9, investments

97. Haub, Erivan and family, Germany, 69, $3.8, retail

97. Huntsman, Jon M., United States, 64, $3.8, chemicals

97. Kinoshita, Kyosuke and family, Japan, 61, $3.8, consumer finance

97. Turner, Robert E. (Ted), United States, 63, $3.8, cable TV

101. Arango, Jeronimo, Mexico, 76, $3.7, retail

101. Khodorkovsky, Mikhail, Russia, 38, $3.7, oil

103. Arison, Micky, United States, 52, $3.6, cruise ships

103. Ermirio de Moraes, Antonio and family, Brazil, 73, $3.6, diversified

105. Iwasaki, Fukuzo, Japan, 77, $3.5, real estate

106. Crown, Lester and family, United States, 76, $3.4, General Dynamics

106. Greenberg, Maurice R., United States, 76, $3.4, AIG

106. Kipp, Karl-Heinz, Germany, 78, $3.4, real estate

106. Latsis, Spiro and family, Greece, 55, $3.4, banking

106. Mori, Akira, Japan, 65, $3.4, real estate

106. Wrigley, William Jr., United States, 39, $3.4, chewing gum

112. Arison Dorsman, Shari, Israel, 44, $3.3, cruise ships

112. Oppenheimer, Nicky and family, South Africa, 56, $3.3, De Beers

112. Sabanci, Sakip and family, Turkey, 69, $3.3, diversified

112. Simplot, John R., United States, 93, $3.3, potatoes

112. Wang, Y.C., Taiwan, 85, $3.3, chemicals

117. Sorenson, James L., United States, 80, $3.2, medical devices

118. Algosaibi, Abdulaziz Bin Hamad and family, Saudi Arabia, 68, $3.1, finance

118. Itoyama, Eitaro, Japan, 59, $3.1, golf courses

118. Kadoorie, Michael and family, Hong Kong, 61, $3.1, diversified

118. Koch, Charles D., United States, 66, $3.1, oil services

118. Koch, David H., United States, 61, $3.1, oil services

118. Ng Teng Fong and family, Singapore, 73, $3.1, real estate

118. Pinault, Francois, France, 65, $3.1, retail

118. Schmidheiny, Stephan, Switzerland, 54, $3.1, investments

118. Wurth, Reinhold, Germany, 66, $3.1, manufacturing