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You can hear the girls declare ‘he must be a billionaire’

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The world’s billionaire club has increased to almost 1,000 members, while their net worth has risen by 35% on last year, according to Forbes magazine.

A record 946 billionaires, worth $3.5 trillion (£1.82 trillion) are now alive, up from 793 last year, representing a massive proportion of the world’s saving and investment pool.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is still top of the pile after 13 years at number one with a net worth of $56bn, followed closely by US investment guru Warren Buffet with $52bnm – who increased his wealth by $10bn last year.

In a creditable third place comes Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, whose wealth powered up $19bn to $49bn in 2006.

Forbes attributed the increase in wealth to surging commodity prices, property and strong equity and saving and investment markets, despite the recent blip caused by China and fears over the US economy.

“In the last five years… despite all the turmoil in the world, the global economy has expanded by 25% in real terms,” said Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of the magazine. “Never before in history has there been such an advance.”

The billionaire list now includes representatives of 53 countries, including the first billionaires from Romania and Serbia. “More people are better off on this Earth than ever before,” commented Forbes.



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