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21 May 2024

Forbes list of billionaires: Saudi Prince Al Waleed blasts magazine for under-reporting fortune

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz (Getty Images)


Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, Microsoft's Bill Gates and Zara fashion house boss Amancio Ortega of Spain topped the Forbes list of the world's billionaires Monday.

But Forbes cut a Mexican druglord from the list, saying it could not contact him, and a Saudi prince blasted the magazine for under-reporting his fortune.

Meanwhile Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, often called the Arab world's richest man, announced that he would no longer cooperate with Forbes because it understated his wealth.

Alwaleed, a nephew of the Saudi king who owns large stakes of Apple, Citigroup, News Corp and Facebook and well as a luxury hotel chain through his Kingdom Holding Co., came in 26th with $20 billion.

That was far less than the $28 billion estimated by Bloomberg's competing billionaires list.

Alwaleed accused Forbes of "intentional biases" that led to undervaluing his assets and that "seemed designed to disadvantage Middle Eastern investors and institutions."

"Kingdom Holding Company will continue to work with the Bloomberg Billionaires valuation teams," the company said in a statement, adding that it had "retained counsel."

Slim, who controls Latin American telecommunications power America Movil and retail/industrial group Grupo Carso, came in first among the mega-rich for the fourth straight year, with a fortune estimated at $73 billion, up $4 billion from a year ago.

Microsoft chairman Gates, a perennial list leader, placed second with $67 billion, $6 billion more than in 2012, even as he continues to give his fortune away via the global charity work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ortega, whose Inditex fashion group includes the popular Zara chain, vaulted from fifth into the third spot with $57 billion, compared with $37.5 billion a year ago.

Ortega was the biggest gainer, while Brazilian metals and oil magnate Eike Batista slipped from seventh to 100th place after a $19.4 billion drop in his fortune.  

After a year in which the the "Occupy Wall Street" movement decried the growing wealth of the so-called "One Percent" at the expense of the many, the Forbes annual list once again pointed to more billionaires amassing more money.

The list now boasts 1,426 names, a record, including 210 new members. The group's aggregate net worth comes in at $5.4 trillion, up from $4.6 trillion last year.

The US led the list with 442 tycoons, followed by China with 122, Russia with 110 and Germany with 58. The number of women billionaires jumped by 34 to 138.

Forbes noted that rebounding equity markets and stronger consumer brands "drove a huge" number of newcomers, including Italy's Diesel jeans mogul Renzo Rosso; US retailer Bruce Nordstrom; and US designer Tory Burch.

Warren Buffett, chief of US investment group Berkshire Hathaway, ranked fourth with $53.5 billion, and Larry Ellison, chief executive of US technology company Oracle, came in fifth with $43 billion.

Tied at sixth were brothers Charles and David Koch, with $34 billion each, fortunes built on their US oil refining, pulp and paper and chemicals empire Koch Industries.

Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, who heads Hong Kong's Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa, was eighth with $31 billion.

French luxury tycoons rounded out the top 10: Liliane Bettencourt and family, of the L'Oreal cosmetics and beauty empire, with $30 billion, and Bernard Arnault, leader of LVMH, with $29 billion.

Four members of the Walton family, the dynasty behind retailer Walmart, dominated the list of billionaires just outside the top 10, with individual gold piles of between $26 and $28 billion. Together, though, they were Forbes's richest family, with $107.3 billion.

Cut from the list was Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the feared boss of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, who appeared in the Forbes ranking for the last four years at the $1 billion level.

Forbes said it was no longer confident Guzman, rumored last month to have been killed in a shootout on the Guatemala border, had enough money to count in its rankings.

"Forbes has been unable to reach him to verify figures and believes an increasing chunk of money is going to protect him and his family," Forbes wealth editor Luisa Kroll said.