Business

No Caribbean players on Forbes 2014 Billionaires list

BY AL EDWARDS

Wednesday, March 05, 2014    

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THIS year's Forbes Billionaires list features no one from the Caribbean. Since 2001, Jamaican born Michael Lee Chin, who is the Chairman of NCB, was the lone standard bearer for the Caribbean region with his net worth placed as high as US$2.5 billion. He fell off the list in 2011 and is yet to stage a come back.

This year's list does not feature other Caribbean "whales" such as Kyffin Simpson, Arthur Lok Jack and Gordon " Butch" Stewart.

It does however feature telecoms and media Irish billionaire Denis O'Brien who heads Digicel which has an extensive footprint across the Caribbean. According to Forbes, O'Brien added US$800 million to his fortune last year which sees him now ranked as the 234th ranked richest person with a fortune of US$6 billion.

Another billionaire with a Caribbean connection featured on this year's list is " The rocket man" Richard Branson who has now permanently moved to Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. He comes in at 281 with a fortune estimated at US$5 billion. His businesses span telecoms, transportation, fitness clubs, music, energy and airlines to name a few.

Bill Gates of Microsoft reclaims top spot from the Mexican Carlos Slim as the world's richest man with his net worth placed at US$76 billion. Gates has been the richest man in the world for 15 out of the last 20 years. Mobile-telephone tycoon Carlos Slim who has a stake in the New York Times now sits in second place with US$72 billion.

Investor Warren Buffett loses third spot to Spanish retailer Amancio Ortega who heads Zara. The Spaniard's wealth is estimated at US$64 billion. "The Oracle of Omaha" who heads Berkshire Hathaway net worth is placed at US$58.2 billion. Founder of Oracle, Larry Ellison takes the fifth spot with a US$48 million fortune.

The ultra conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have a combined wealth of US$80 billion and come in at sixth and seventh place respectively.

Nigerian cement tycoon Aliko Dangote is still the richest black person in the world. At 56 years old, he sits on top of a US$25 billion pile made from cement, sugar and flour. He began his company in 1981.

There are now more female billionaires than ever before with 42 new ones. In total there are 172 women on the list, up from 138 last year. With US$2.9 billion, media mogul Oprah Winfrey remains the wealthiest African-American on this year's Forbes billionaires list. The wealthiest woman in the world is Christy Walton of Wal Mart with a fortune of US$36.7 billion, inherited from her now dead husband John Walton.

Two thirds of the billionaires on this year's list built their own fortunes, 13 per cent inherited them and 21 per cent have been adding on to fortunes they received.

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