Forbes names Gates as richest of the rich

Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft Corp., is still the richest man in the world, said Forbes magazine on Thursday as it released its ranking of wealthiest of the wealthy.

Gates' total wealth was estimated at US$40.7 billion at the end of 2002, easily earning him a place at the top of the billionaires' ranking. His nearest competitor, investor Warren Buffett, had an estimated net wealth of $30.5 billion at the end of the year, said Forbes.

Gates' net wealth fell $12.1 billion during the year -- or around $23,000 per minute. That's more in a minute than the average U.S. private sector worker earns in a month or a worker on minimum wage earns in an entire year.

Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen was ranked fourth, behind German supermarket magnates the Albrecht brothers, with a net wealth estimated at $25.6 billion or around half that of Gates. Larry Ellison, chief executive officer of Oracle Corp., was ranked sixth with $16.6 billion, the last IT billionaire to make it into the top ten.

Other prominent IT figures ranked in the top 25 included Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive officer, at number 16 with $11.1 billion, and Michael Dell, founder and chief executive officer of Dell Computer Corp., at number 24 with $9.8 billion.

Telecommunications helped make Carlos Slim Helu, who owns a major stake in Teléfonos de México SA de CV (Telmex), Latin and South America's richest man according to the Forbes rankings, with an estimated net wealth of $7.4 billion. The richest Asian on the list, India's Azim Premji, can also attribute much of his $5.9 billion net worth to IT. He owns a majority stake in software company Wipro Ltd.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs came in at 236 with a net worth estimated at $1.7 billion.

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