A booming stock market and newly created Internet wealth have expanded the world's billionaires club and pushed the collective net worth of the richest 200 working people beyond $1 trillion, Forbes magazine says in its latest ranking of billionaires around the globe.
With $90 billion to his name, Microsoft Corp. co-founder and chairman Bill Gates tops the list of 465 billionaires counted in the magazine's July 5 issue, the 13th annual World's Billionaires list.
Montana industrialist Dennis Washington is in slot No. 342, with estimated wealth of $1.5 billion. In June 1998, Forbes released a list of the world's 200 wealthiest people, and ranked Washington 195th. In September 1998, he and 13 people were tied for the ranking of No.110 on Forbes' list of the United States' richest individuals. Washington lives in Missoula and has operations in the railroad and mining industries.
Just as the Internet has sped up the pace of life today, hastening everything from stock trading to travel planning, it also has accelerated the creation of more wealth, particularly among the richest individuals.
The magazine says the total wealth of the Top 200 working rich not only surpassed $1 trillion this year, but their collective net worth is more than double the $463 billion that the top 200 billionaires had 10 years ago. Also, Gates alone has as much money as the top 9 on the list 10 years ago.
Forbes has a separate list for what it calls the "World's Working Rich," those who made their own wealth or are working with their inheritance.
Gates remains by far the world's richest man as his net worth nearly doubled from $51 billion last year, briefly touching $100 billion in April before the stock market retrenched somewhat.
Microsoft boosted two others into top five ranking. Co-founder Paul Allen was in the No. 3 spot, with a $30 billion net worth, behind investor Warren Buffet's $36 billion. Microsoft president Steven Ballmer was in fourth place, with $19.5 billion.
In fifth place were the Oeri, Hoffman and Sacher families of Switzerland with $17 billion from the Roche pharmaceuticals conglomerate.
Tied for sixth place with a net worth of $16.5 billion were oil, rail and telecommunications magnate Philip Anschutz and Dell Computer Corp. chairman Michael Dell, who at 34 was the youngest among the top 10.
The top 10 list is actually a top 11, because the next four spots, eight through 11, are held by members of the Walton family, heirs of the late Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton. Forbes estimated their wealth at $16 billion each.
Dot-com billionaires from around the globe were catapulted onto this year's list.
Jay Walker, founder of Priceline.com, and Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, went from nowhere into the Top 50. Walker was No. 25 with a net worth of $10.2 billion, while Omidyar was 36th with $10.1 billion.
In another list, Forbes ranked th estimated net worths of what it called the world's "Kings, Queens and Dictators." Leading that category were the Sultan of Brunei, with $30 billion in wealth, Saudi Arabia's King Fahd with $28 billion, Iraq's President Saddam Hussein with $6 billion, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands with $5.2 billion and Syria's President Hafez Al-Assad with $2 billion.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth has either $450 million or $16 billion, depending on whether you count the Royal Collection, which includes the crown jewels and is held by the Queen in trust for the nation.
Written by Donna Murphy Weston