Gates no longer world's richest, falls to 3rd on Forbes list

Microsoft's push to buy Yahoo blamed for drop in share value; Warren Buffett takes top spot

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates fell to third place on Forbes' 2008 list of the world's richest people after 13 years at No. 1, due largely to Microsoft's bid for Yahoo Inc., Forbes said.

The magazine, which puts out an annual list of the world's richest people, said Gates' decline was because of a slide in the value of Microsoft shares from Jan. 31, the day before the company announced a $44.6 billion offer to buy Yahoo, to Feb. 11, the day Forbes calculated stock prices into its valuations.

Had Microsoft shares not declined so much, Gates would have been in a close race with investing mogul Warren Buffett, who is a close friend of Gates, for the top spot on the list, Forbes said.

Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway, took over as the world's richest man this year with an estimated $62 billion fortune, while Mexican communications industry leader Carlos Slim Helu came in second with $60 billion, Forbes said. Gates' fortune was valued at $58 billion.

Microsoft helped put Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest ever billionaire, on Forbes' list. The founder of popular social networking Web site Facebook is worth $1.5 billion, according to the magazine, based on a calculation involving Microsoft's $240 million investment last year for a 1.6% stake in Facebook.

Zuckerberg ranked 785th overall on the Forbes list.

Other U.S. technology industry leaders toppled down the rich list. Larry Ellison, CEO and founder of Oracle Corp., fell to 14th place on the Forbes list, from 11th last year, while Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen tumbled to 41st place from 19th place last year.

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page retained their titles as the richest young people on the Forbes list, coming in at $18.7 billion and $18.6 billion, respectively. They ranked 32nd and 33rd overall.

The remaining top 10 richest people in the world are mainly in heavy industry and commodities, according to Forbes. The next three richest men are all from India. Fourth place, Lakshmi Mittal, is a steel magnate, while fifth place Mukesh Ambani is in petrochemicals and his brother, sixth place Anil Ambani, is in power and communications. Oleg Deripaska of Russia made much of his fortune in aluminum, putting him in the ninth spot.

Retail titans took two of the top 10 spots. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad of Sweden took seventh place on the list, while the founder of German discount store Aldi, Karl Albrecht, took 10th. Indian real estate developer KP Singh came in eighth on the list.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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