Global billionaire wealth scales new heights, India disappoints

Written by PTI | New York | Updated: Mar 4 2014, 21:37pm hrs
Ravi Ruia-EssarSome of the Indian billionaires who saw their fortunes erode in the past year include Essar Group's Ravi Ruia. (Reuters)
The total wealth of billionaires living in India has dropped to USD 191.5 billion, even as the overall fortune of the group globally has grown to a record high of USD 6.4 trillion.

Thanks to a weak economy and decline in the rupee value against US dollar, the collective wealth of India's billionaires' at USD 191.5 billion was a tad lower than last year even as the number of the super rich people in the country was 56, one more than 2013.

The ranks of the world's billionaires continued to "scale new heights and stretch to new corners of the world".

There were as many as 1,645 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of USD 6.4 trillion, up from USD 5.4 trillion a year ago. This included a record 268 new 10-figure fortunes, and 42 new women billionaires.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has regained the title of the world's richest man in the Forbes magazine's annual billionaire list. Bill Gates is back at the top spot after a four-year hiatus, reclaiming the title of world's richest person from Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, who had ranked number 1 for the previous four years.

Bill Gates, whose fortune rose by USD 9 billion in the past year to USD 76 billion, has held the top spot for 15 of the past 20 years.

According to Forbes, the US led the world with 492 billionaires thanks to the tech boom and strong stock market, followed by China with 152 and Russia with 111 super rich people.

"But wealth is spreading to new places," Forbes said, adding that the latest Forbes list saw inclusion of billionaires for the first time from Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda.

Moreover, for the first time, an African, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, made it to the top 25.

On the contrary, a weak economy and falling rupee took its toll on the wealth of Indian billionaires this year.

The country is home to 56 billionaires in all with a collective net worth of USD 191.5 billion which is a little lower than last year's haul of 55 names worth USD 193.6 billion.

Some of the most striking billionaire who saw their fortunes erode in the past year include, Mukesh Ambani, Laxmi Mittal, Sashi and Ravi Ruia among others.

In 2008, Ambani was world's fifth richest person with a net worth of USD 43 billion and has seen a steep decline in his wealth since. This year, Ambani's wealth is down by USD 2.9 billion though he hangs on to his perch as India's richest person with USD 18.6 billion net worth.

Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has also been witnessing a steep fall over the last 10 years. In the latest Forbes list Mittal is ranked in the 52nd position, while in the year 2005, he enjoyed a rank as high as 3rd on the global rich list.

Moreover Shashi & Ravi Ruia also saw their fortune erode and this year's the brothers are the biggest dollar losers, down by USD 3.6 billion as shares of their London-listed Essar Energy tumbled.