Amazon boss first to rocket past US$100B

Top News | 8 Mar 2018

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has become the first US$100 billion (HK$780 billion) mogul to top Forbes' annual rankings of the world's richest people as Microsoft founder Bill Gates slips to second place.

US President Donald Trump's ranking fell to 766th place from 544th in the last edition, his wealth estimated at US$3.1 billion (HK$24.18 billion), US$400 million less than a year ago.

Thanks to a 59 percent rise in Amazon shares over the past 12 months, Bezos' fortune shot up to US$120 billion, way ahead of the US$90 billion of Gates.

Legendary investor Warren Buffett held on to his No 3 ranking, followed by French industrialist Bernard Arnault, who jumped to fourth-richest person from his previous No 11 spot, mostly thanks to the euro's strength against the US dollar.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg was fifth.

Two Chinese billionaires rose to be among the 20 richest people in the world: Pony Ma Huateng, chief of internet giant Tencent, who is the richest person in Asia and No 17 in the world, and Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun.

There are now a record 2,208 billionaires in the world, Forbes counted, and their combined worth is US$9.1 trillion, up 18 percent from last year.

The United States has the most billionaires at 585, followed by mainland China at 373.

Forbes' list contains 259 newcomers, including the first-ever cryptocurrency billionaires.

Falling fortunes or political headwinds, meanwhile, pushed 121 people out of the illustrious list, including all 10 Saudi Arabians, the magazine said.

Bezos has used a sliver of his wealth to buy The Washington Post - a target in Trump's fusillades against the media - and to finance Blue Origin, a maker of rockets that aim to sell flights into space.

Meanwhile, Amazon has expanded beyond its bookselling origin to become a retailer of almost everything imaginable.

It now even sells groceries in brick-and-mortar stores after its US$13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Markets last year.

Amazon has also built a network of data centers that hosts the online services of other companies, and produces award-winning shows that compete against traditional TV networks.

More recently, it branched into health care in a partnership involving Berkshire Hathaway and its CEO, Buffett, whose US$84 billion fortune ranks third on the list.

Gates is an occasional bridge partner of Buffett.

Both Gates, 62, and Buffett, 87, have committed to give away most of their wealth.

Bezos, 54, has not said much about his philanthropic plans.


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