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The 8 billionaires who own the same wealth as 3.6bn people

Jan 17 2017 05:31
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – Oxfam has released the names of the eight richest men who own the same wealth as the bottom 50% of the world’s population - about 3.6 billion people.

The billionaires collectively have wealth to the value of $426bn (R5.8tr), according to data from the Credit Suisse global wealth report of 2016. The total wealth of billionaires across the world comes to $6.5tr (R88.43tr).

In its latest inequality report, ‘An economy for the 99%,’ the organisation highlighted the growing inequality gap between the rich and the poor. Oxfam is launching the report to coincide with the 47th World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

READ: Wealth shock: 8 men own same as half of world's poorest

The eight men are:

1. Bill Gates

Gates is known for being the co-founder of Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker. In 2016 the 61 year old’s wealth was valued at $75bn (R1tr). Gates stepped down as CEO of the company in 2000 to focus on philanthropy. He and his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce extreme poverty around the world.

2. Amancio Ortega

The Spanish businessman (80) is the founder and former chair of multinational clothing company, Inditex fashion group, of which he owns 59%. Inditex is the owner of clothing chain Zara. The company operates more than 7 000 stores. The first Zara store was opened in 1975. He also owns premium office and retail properties. Ortega’s wealth is $67bn (R911.5bn).

3. Warren Buffett

The CEO of investment company Berkshire Hathaway’s wealth was at $60.8bn (R827.13bn) in 2016. Buffett (86) was born in Nebraska and bought his first stock on the New York Stock Exchange at age 11. He graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in economics and became a billionaire in 1985.

4. Carlos Slim Helu

The Mexican businessman is known for being the world’s wealthiest person for the years between 2010 and 2013. The 77 year old is chairman of America Movil which was merged with Telmex in 2011. It is the largest mobile-phone operator in the Americas. He also owns 6.4% of the New York Times. His wealth was $50bn (R680.21bn).

5. Jeff Bezos

Bezos is known for founding Amazon.com in 1994 to sell books online. It is now the world’s largest web retailer. Bezos’ wealth was $45.2bn (R614.91bn) in 2016. In 2013 Bezos purchased the Washington Post newspaper for $250m (R3.4bn). He is 53 years old.

6. Mark Zuckerberg

The 32 year old is known for dropping out of Harvard University to start Facebook. The company's initial public offering (IPO) in 2012 is regarded as one of the largest technology IPOs of all time. Following the birth of his daughter Max, Zuckerberg announced he would give away 99% of his stock in Facebook during his lifetime. His wealth was $44.6bn (R606.75bn).

7. Larry Ellison

The founder of computer technology company Oracle Corporation, had wealth valued at $43.6bn (R593bn) in 2016. Oracle bought cloud computing company Netsuite in 2016, of which Ellison had a 35% stake. He also has a stake in educational entertainment company Leapfrog Enterprises and has investments in luxury real estates. The 72 year old stepped down as CEO of Oracle in 2014 and serves as chair and chief technology officer.

8. Michael Bloomberg

The former mayor of New York City’s wealth came to $40bn (R544bn) in 2016. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 and paid for his tuition by taking loans and working as a parking lot attendant. The 72 year old launched financial data company Bloomberg LP in 1981. He returned to run the company in 2015, after completing his third term as mayor. 

ALSO READ: These 3 billionaires at top of SA's inequality shocker

In South Africa, three billionaires own the same wealth as the poorest half of the population. According to Oxfam South Africa research and policy lead Ronald Wesso, the top three billionaires were retail tycoon Christo Wiese, Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg and Aspen Pharmacare chief executive Stephen Saad.

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