Wednesday, February 3

Top 10 Most Powerful Billionaires in the world 2010

Bill Gates

Source of power: Microsoft, philanthropy

Philanthropic powerhouse and software sultan. Despite losing $18 billion, Gates recaptured the crown as world's richest man in early 2009. Microsoft shares have rallied 60% in one year; new Windows 7 aiming to fix Vista disappointment. Net worth: $50 billion as of August 2009. Through Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, gives billions to domestic education, developing vaccines and fighting hunger in developing nations. Recently joined Twitter, garnering international attention.

Edward and Abigail Johnson

Source of power: Fidelity Investments

Father and daughter run Fidelity Investments, America's largest mutual fund company: $1.3 trillion under management; $3.2 trillion under administration – equal to about 22% of U.S. 2008 GDP. Family owns 49% of the company. "Ned" serves as chairman; "Abby" runs Personal & Workplace Investing division. Combined fortune: $19.5 billion.

Li Ka-shing

Source of power: Real estate; shipping

Asia's richest person. Hong Kong electricity supplier, real estate developer, world's largest operator of container terminals and health & beauty retailers. Stock of his Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa enterprises have rallied 45% and 54%, respectively, in one year. Eldest son, Victor, helps him run businesses; son Richard is a billionaire of his own right.

Mukesh Ambani

Source of power: Reliance Industries

Energy mogul rules Reliance Industries, India's largest private-sector company. Richest person in India; estimated net worth: $33 billion. Company stock up 90% since last January. With brother Anil, inherited father Dhirubhai's massive industrial empire 2002. Brothers battled over power, divided assets. Mukesh controls energy entities; Anil leads banking and telecom companies.

Warren Buffett

Source of power: Berkshire Hathaway

Oracle of Omaha showing no signs of slowing down at age 78. Closed biggest deal of career last November: bought Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for $40 billion. Ploughed $1.3 billion into beleaguered Swiss Re in January. Shrewdly profiting from global financial crisis; snapped up stakes in Goldman Sachs, General Electric during darkest days of 2008; opponent of inherited wealth has bequeathed vast majority of $40 billion fortune to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."

Saad Hariri

Source of power: Prime minister, Lebanon; construction; telecommunications

Billionaire appointed Lebanese prime minister last June. Follows footsteps of Father Rafic Hariri, two-time prime minister and industrialist assassinated in 2005 bombing. Saad also runs construction, telecom and real estate conglomerate Saudi Oger, which he inherited with the rest of his family four years ago. Progressive prime minister is aiming to repair country from damage of civil wars and foreign interference. Lebanon's population: 4 million; GDP: $44 billion.

Carlos Slim Helu

Source of power: America Movil; infrastructure, investments

World's third-richest man consolidating his holdings; recently announced plans for his America Movil telecom giant to buy up three other companies he controls to create a massive telecom juggernaut. Personal fortune equivalent to 2% of Mexican GDP. Upping his charitable giving; this January pledged $65 million to research in genetic disease. Also head of group dedicated to improving Mexico's roads, energy infrastructure, water supply.

Vagit Alekperov

Source of power: Lukoil

Controls world's second-largest independent oil company; produces more than 2% of global oil supply. Lukoil is Russia's largest taxpayer. Born into large family in the oil city of Baku, attended Azerbaijan's Oil & Chemistry Institute. In 1972 started as drill operator in the Caspian Sea. By 1990 was a deputy minister in the Soviet oil industry. In 1991 took three large ministry-controlled oil fields--Langepas, Urai and Kogalym (LUK) and set up Lukoil, which was soon privatized in favor of Alekperov-controlled management. Personally owns more than 20% of the company; upped his stake last year.

Silvio Berlusconi

Source of power: Prime Minister, Italy; media; banking

Italy's prime minister suffering from more than just a bruised reputation. In December 2009 a man broke the billionaire's nose and teeth with a statue of Milan's Cathedral. Media monopolist owns large stakes outright in three television networks, controls three others through state. Also owns magazines, newspapers, advertising agencies. Loves sports; his AC Milan is one of the world's premier soccer teams. Colorful private life, bribery allegations, Cabinet member picks have caused him to be depicted as Europe's buffoon. Unfazed: calls himself "the Jesus Christ of Italian politics."

Michael Bloomberg

Source of power: Mayor, New York City; Bloomberg LP

Started third term as New York City's chief executive this January; spent more than $100 million on re-election campaign. City of 8.4 million people facing budget crisis as tax revenues fall and real estate prices tumble. Former Salomon Brothers trader founded financial information and services firm Innovative Market Systems; renamed Bloomberg LP in 1987. Firm now has news service, cable TV stations, radio and magazine. Today owns 88% of company after buying cash-strapped Merrill Lynch's 20% stake in summer 2008


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