World’s richest added to their wealth in 2012

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MEXICAN telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim Helu has consolidated his position as the world’s richest man, adding $4bn (£2.65bn) to his family’s fortune in the last year, according to the latest Forbes list of billionaires.

Slim, whose wealth has grown through his various mobile phone, financial and industrial companies, is now $6bn richer than the second biggest billionaire, Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Inditex owner Amancio Ortega is now the third richest man on earth, having leapfrogged feted investor Warren Buffett, who slips to fourth even after adding $9.5bn to his $53.5bn fortune in the past year.

There are now a record 1,426 dollar billionaires, after 210 of the world’s richest passed the threshold during the year and 60 fell off Forbes’ list.

Together, they have a net worth of $5.4 trillion, up from $4.6 trillion a year ago. The average billionaire can lay claim to $3.8bn, up $100m on a year ago, with many helped by a resurgence in major stock markets.

Just one of the top ten – Bernaud Arnault, the man behind the luxury brands at LVMH – saw their fortune shrink over the past 12 months.

But the fashion industry also delivered a clutch of new billionaires, including Tory Burch, the founder of her namesake apparel powerhouse, Diesel jeans maker Renzo Rosso, and designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana.

The United States continues to dominate the list, boasting five of the top ten and 442 billionaires in total.

The UK, by comparison, has just 37. Property mogul Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, has kept his family’s title as Britain’s wealthiest with a net worth of $11.4bn, up $400m in the past year. Forbes estimates that he is the 89th richest man in the world.

Further afield, serial investor Binod Chaudhary and real estate tycoon Pham Nhat Vuong have become the first billionaires of Nepal and Vietnam respectively.

Notable dropouts from the billionaires’ club this year include Zynga founder Mark Pincus, Kingfisher magnate Vijay Mallya and Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev.