The Future

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Daily Skim in Fargo Moorhead

by Donovan Schumacher

Warren Buffett is the richest person on the planet.

Riding the surging price of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, news, msgs) stock, the man called America's most beloved investor has seen his fortune swell to an estimated $62 billion, up $10 billion from a year ago. That massive pile of scratch puts him ahead of Microsoft (MSFT, news, msgs) co-founder Bill Gates, who had been the richest person in the world for the past 13 years.

Bill Gates © Remi Ochlik/Maxppp/Landov

No. 3:
Bill Gates

Gates is now worth $58 billion and is ranked third in the world. He is up $2 billion from a year ago and would have been perhaps as rich -- or richer -- than Buffett had Microsoft not made an unsolicited bid for Yahoo (YHOO, news, msgs) at the beginning of February. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)

Microsoft shares fell 15% between Jan. 31, the day before the company announced its bid for the search-engine giant, and Feb. 11, the day we locked in stock prices for the 2008 World's Billionaires list. More than half of Gates' fortune is held outside Microsoft shares.

Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helú is the world's second-richest person, with an estimated net worth of $60 billion. His fortune has risen $11 billion since last March.

Carlos Slim Helú © AP Photo

No. 2: Carlos Slim Helú

Lakshmi Mittal © John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

No. 4: Lakshmi Mittal

Mukesh Ambani © AP Photo

No. 5: Mukesh Ambani

Buffett, whose fortune is estimated based on his stake in Berkshire Hathaway and assets he holds outside the company, declined to comment on his net worth.

The race for the title of world's richest person has been extremely competitive in recent months. Class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway soared 25% between mid-July and the day we priced our list. The stock hit an all-time high of more than $150,000 a share in December. At that time Buffett was worth roughly $65 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway shares closed at $137,100 per share Tuesday, down 2% since an announcement Friday that the company's net earnings had fallen 18% in the fourth quarter of last year.

Gates' fortune also swelled massively last fall. Microsoft's stock jumped 30% between late October and early November to $37 a share, only to fall after the company announced Feb. 1 that it was seeking to buy Yahoo for about $45 billion.

Slim's fortune has doubled in the past two years. Stock in his most significant holding, telecom outfit América Móvil (AMOV, news, msgs), has risen 120% since the beginning of 2006. Slim also owns stakes in Carso Global Telecom, Grupo Carso (GPOVY, news, msgs) and Grupo Financiero Inbursa.

The world's richest:
NameAgeCountryNet worthPrimary source of wealth

Warren Buffett



$62 billion

Berkshire Hathaway

Carlos Slim Helú and family



$60 billion

Telecom industry

Bill Gates



$58 billion


Lakshmi Mittal



$45 billion

Steel industry

Mukesh Ambani



$43 billion


Anil Ambani



$42 billion

Diversified investments

Ingvar Kamprad and family



$31 billion


K.P. Singh



$30 billion

Real estate

Oleg Deripaska



$28 billion

Aluminum industry

Karl Albrecht



$27 billion

Aldi supermarkets

See the full list

The son of a Nebraska politician, Buffett delivered newspapers as a boy. He filed his first tax return at age 13, claiming a $35 deduction for his bicycle. He moved on to study under value-investing guru Benjamin Graham at Columbia University.

Buffett started buying shares in textile firm Berkshire Hathaway in 1962 and purchased a controlling stake in 1965. He began buying insurance companies and astutely investing those companies' cash reserves.

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