x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Billions more reasons to be happy on Forbes list

An underwear tycoon is one of the latest entrants on the Forbes magazine rich list. The league also proves that for the very wealthy, the good times are better than ever.

Carlos Slim: worth $69 billion. Reuters
Carlos Slim: worth $69 billion. Reuters

From underwear sales to electric sports cars, the mega-rich are on a roll. In the Forbes magazine annual list of global billionaires, a record 1,226 tycoons checked in with a net worth running into 10 figures.

Still on top is the Mexican magnate Carlos Slim with an estimated fortune of US$69 billion (Dh253.44).

He was followed by the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates with $61bn and Warren Buffett on $44bn. France's Bernard Arnault, the richest tycoon in Europe, stayed in fourth.

But the most intriguing entry this year was Sara Blakely, the founder of the slimming underwear company Spanx. At 41, she is the world's youngest self-made female billionaire, with a personality to match here wealth.

"I'm game for anything," Ms Blakely, who is married to the former rap singer Jesse Itzler, told Forbes. "The company has to pull me back."

Ms Blakely has admitted she would be happy to pose in nothing but Spanx on the cover of any of the company's nine catalogues mailed each year to 6 million shoppers.

"She's 50 per cent Lucille Ball, 50 per cent Einstein," her husband told Forbes. "I keep a list of Sara-isms in my phone."

Apart from Ms Blakely, another key mover was Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal and the man who set up Tesla Motors, the electric car company. A major player in Silicon Valley, Mr Musk is ranked joint 634th in the rich list with a $2bn fortune.

"My extended family is quite big, I have a lot of cousins," he told Business Insider recently. "But only a few of them should be running companies. One thing I worry about with my kids is they don't face enough adversity."

In addition to the usual ageing plutocrats and heirs, the Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerburg, 27, moved into 35th spot with a net worth of $17.5bn.

Last month, the social media heavyweight announced plans for a Wall Street listing that would value Facebook at a projected $100bn.

Hardly surprising then, that Mr Zuckerberg has jumped 17 places and $4bn.

Another Facebook billionaire on the list is Dustin Moskovitz, also 27.

Worth an estimated $3.5bn, Mr Moskovitz still cycles to work and has a modest lifestyle. "I used to be really anxious about money," he said. "I got that from my parents. I still am, for entirely different reasons."

Moving back to the top, Mr Slim, 72, and his family have been in pole position for three years in a row, climbing up the list as his telecommunications empire expanded. He has since moved into retail, finance, commodities and energy.

In recent years, he has taken larger stakes abroad, owning parts of the department store Saks and the money manager BlackRock.

But during the past few months he has expressed concern about the state of the global economy.

"I think the solutions [political leaders] are looking at are not the right solutions," he told Forbes."

* compiled from Reuters and AP