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Forbes Rich List 2009 Unveils Big Changes

billionnaires-mapOne of the most awaited lists in the world of money, the one maintained by Forbes, has been published. And of course, is hitting all the media channels.
If you look at the list, many positions have been changed. And this is mostly due to the recent worldwide shakedown of the economies, who have torn appart many industries. The financial crisis was hitting hard most of the bilionnaired, especially those with large investments in the financial industry or in the raw materials sector.
Some of the billionnaires risked too much. So were most of the Indian and Russian oligharchs, who saw their fortunes vanishing once with the oil price going down more than 3 times in one year.
The steel titan Lakshmi Mittal has lost his shine. With steel prices down 75% since last summer and heavy fines from a French antitrust investigation that found 10 companies guilty of price fixing in European steel markets, he has lost in one year $25,7 billion. So is Anil Ambani, last years top climber, who has lost in one year almost $32 billion due to a steep fall in the shares of Relliance Communications, which lost two thirds.
Our favourites (the famous investors) have lost also fortunes. The oracle of Omaha, who is now much more relaxed after donating his fortune to charities, has lost $25 billion. Warren Buffet has bought large amounts of shares in Goldman Sachs and General Electric, taking (as the Omaha’s Berkshire Hathaway stategy prescribes) a long term position in these companies, leaders in their sectors.
Real estate investors were also among those most impacted by the financial crisis. In 2008, the ex-army officer K.P. Singh has lost $25 billion, Shares of his property firm DLF sank 80% over last year, as earnings were hit by slowdown of once red-hot Indian economy and plunging real estate values. He attempted share buybacks, then listing its real estate empire on the Singapore stock exchange. All his attempts failed, leaving him highly exposed on this market.
And some other investors lost lots of money. Third-richest American in 2008 (Sheldon Adelson) falls to 73rd place, as casino industry crapped out. Shares of Las Vegas Sands down 98% this past year as gamblers walked away from table. Massive debt is pressuring his operations, which is not the case of William Bill Gates, who has lost only $25 billion due to the plunge in Microsoft’s shares (which have lost 40% since last March).
Biggest gainers were cashing out in the nick of time, making against-the-markets bets or selling tailored products to budget-conscious consumers. Michael Bloomberg increases his fortune with $4.5 billion by buying 20% of the firm he founded in 1982 from the cash straped Merril Lynch. And worth mentioning is also the famous investor John Paulson, the hedge maanger who back in 2005 was betting that U.S. economy was heading for a recession. In 2007, personally pocketed $3.5 billion shorting subprime credit, windfall believed to be largest one-year payday in Wall Street history. Last year, his Paulson Advantage fund rose 38% while the S&P 500 sank 39%.

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