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Billionaires and their sources

billionaires and their sourcesBillions. It doesn’t sound like a special word, it’s uttered daily by people and when talking about the world’s economy billions sounds incredibly small next to the trillions. Have a quick look at some billionaires and what made them that way.

It’s true that there is a daily updated list of billionaires somewhere on the Internet and while that list has more updated information about the exact dollars guessed that these elite are worth, the real number will never be known. That’s another secret of billionaires, not letting people know their true wealth. Take a look at 20 billionaires and their source of power.

Michael Bloomberg

Source of power: mayor, New York City; Bloomberg LP
Billions: $25
Info: New York City’s chief executive. Former Salomon Brothers trader founded financial information and services firm Innovative Market Systems; renamed Bloomberg LP in 1987. Firm now has news service, cable TV stations, radio and magazine. Today, he owns 88% of company after buying cash-strapped Merrill Lynch’s 20% stake last summer. Spent $74 million becoming New York City mayor in 2001 and $85 million in 2005. Law passed in October letting Bloomberg run for third term.


Silvio Berlusconi

Source of power: prime minister, Italy; Fininvest
Billions: $6
Info: Currently serving his third term as prime minister of Italy. Leads a nation of 58 million people, an industrial economy with a GDP of $2.4 trillion and a military budget of roughly $43 billion. As prime minister, he lords over Italy’s public TV; his diversified conglomerate Fininvest dominates Italy’s private TV channels.


Lakshmi Mittal

Source of power: ArcelorMittal
Billions: $20.7
Info: Controls world’s largest steelmaker ArcelorMittal; company accounts for 10% of crude steel production. Born in India but lives in London, where his political clout often incites controversy. In 2002, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly wrote a letter to the Romanian prime minister hinting a sale of the country’s steel company to Mittal would facilitate its entrance into the European Union.


Warren Buffett

Source of power: Berkshire Hathaway
Billions: $46
Info: Even the faintest hint of interest from Buffett can send a stock soaring. When Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway injected billions into Goldman Sachs in September, the investment bank’s shares jumped by nearly 6%. Backed Barack Obama with advice and money during last year’s campaign; Obama often touted the endorsement in a campaign where the economy eventually took center stage.


Vagit Alekperov

Source of power: president of Lukoil
Billions: $13.9
Info: Former Caspian Sea oil rig worker, now president of Lukoil, Russia’s largest independent energy company. The firm’s reserves are second only to ExxonMobil. Alekperov owns more than 19% of the company. Friend of Vladimir Putin who lobbies Kremlin for tax breaks for Russian oil companies.


Carlos Slim Helu

Source of power: America Movil, Telefonos de Mexico
Billions: $69
Info: Son of Lebanese immigrant was world’s second richest man in 2008. His Telmex controls 90% of telephone landlines in Mexico; cellphone operator America Movil has more than 173 million customers in Latin America. Baseball fan and art collector also invests in construction, retail, banking, railroads, mining and media; bought 6.9% stake in The New York Times last year and loaned the newspaper $250 million in January.


Mukesh Ambani

Source of power: Reliance Industries
Billions: $22.3
Info: Heads petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries, India’s largest company by market cap. Produces oil, gas, petrochemicals and textiles. Personally funding construction of a 27-story home in Mumbai that could cost $2 billion. With brother Anil, inherited their fortune from their late father, renowned industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani. But they couldn’t get along, and in 2005, their mother brokered a peace settlement breaking up the family’s assets.


Charles and David Koch

Source of power: Koch Industries
Billions: $31 and $31
Info: MIT-trained brothers turned family oil refining firm into America’s second largest private company. Koch Industries has stakes in pipelines, refineries, fertilizer, fibers and polymers, forest and consumer products, chemical technology. Sales in 2008: $110 billion. Brothers each own 42% of company. Employs 80,000 people and operates in 60 countries. Charles co-founder of conservative think tank Cato Institute. David gave $100 million to alma mater for cancer research in 2007. Pledged another $100 million to New York’s Lincoln Center last July.


Bill Gates

Source of power: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft
Billions: $66
Info: World’s richest man founded software giant Microsoft in 1975. Stepped down from day-to-day duties at Microsoft last year to devote his talents and riches to philanthropy. The $36 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donates to causes such as fighting hunger in developing countries, improving education in America’s high schools and developing vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.


Edward and Abigail Johnson

Source of power: Fidelity
Billions: $5.8 and $10.3
Info: Father and daughter run Fidelity Investments, America’s largest mutual fund company. Family owns 49% of the company, which managed $1.2 trillion in assets at the end of 2008. “Ned” serves as chairman; “Abby” runs Personal & Workplace Investing division.


Li Ka-Shing

Source of power: Cheung Kong and Hutchinson Whampoa
Billions: $25.5
Info: Grew up poor; sold plastic flowers in Hong Kong in the 1950s. Now Hong Kong’s richest person. Empire built on conglomerates Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa. Controls world’s largest operator of container terminals, world’s largest health and beauty retailer, a major supplier of electricity to Hong Kong and a real estate developer. Also owns a large stake in Canadian oil company Husky Energy. Plans to donate one-third of wealth over time.


Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud

Source of power: Kingdom Holdings
Billions: $18
Info: The most active and successful investor in the Middle East took his investment vehicle, Kingdom Holdings, public on the Saudi stock exchange in July 2007. Kingdom Holdings contains his investments in well-known companies such as Citigroup and News Corp., as well as Four Seasons Hotels and Fairmont Hotel management companies, among many others.


Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair

Source of power: Mashreq
Billions: $2.8
Info: Emirates patriarch helps finance and feed the Middle East. Head of Mashreq, a leading United Arab Emirates commercial bank founded by his father during the Gulf’s first oil boom in the 1960s. Family’s diverse business interests also include investments in cement, petrochemicals, insurance and Masafi, the region’s leading mineral-water brand. Foods division operates one of the largest flour mills in the Middle East. In 2007, Al Ghurair was elected speaker and president of the U.A.E. Parliament.


Rupert Murdoch

Source of power: News Corp.
Billions: $8.3
Info: Media king’s fortune may be falling on hard times, but he still controls a dizzying array of TV stations and print publications around the globe via News Corp. His empire includes the Fox family of TV channels and more than 100 newspapers. Added Dow Jones (and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal) in 2007 for $5.6 billion in cash.


Serge Dassault

Source of power: Groupe Dassault
Billions: $9.3
Info: French senator is honorary chairman of software and media conglomerate Groupe Dassault. Owns Le Figaro, French daily newspaper founded in 1826, plus a 50% stake in Dassault Aviation, maker of Mirage and Rafale jets. Son Olivier is a member of French National Assembly.


Saad Hariri

Source of power: engineering and construction
Billions: $2.1
Info: Son of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri; heads a group of legislators intent on carrying out father’s legacy. Earlier this year, successfully lobbied France to monitor upcoming Lebanese elections. Takes cover in Riyadh when security gets shaky in Beirut. Also serves as general manager of Saudi Oger, his family’s $9 billion (revenues) construction and telecom company.


Roman Abramovich

Source of power: commodities
Billions: $19.6
Info: Made fortune in a series of controversial oil export deals in early 1990s. Teamed up with Boris Berezovsky to take over oil giant Sibneft at a fraction of its market value. In 2003 to 2004, sold stake in Russian Aluminum to Oleg Deripaska. Sold 73% stake in Sibneft to gas titan Gazprom for $13 billion in 2005. Later bought stake in the country’s largest steelmaker, Evraz Group and a piece of Highland Gold, a U.K. mining company with operations in Russia. Former governor of far-flung Chukotka province.


Sergey Brin and Larry Page

Source of power: Google
Billions: $18.7 and $18.7
Info: When people look for information, they’re likely to turn to Page and Brin’s creation: Google. Research agency Millward Brown called Google the most valuable brand in the world in 2008. Brin and Page met in computer science Ph.D. program at Stanford. Dropped out in 1998 to work on a search engine from a friend’s garage. Took company public in 2004.


David Rubenstein, William Conway Jr., Daniel D’Aniello

Source of power: Carlyle Group
Billions: $2.8 and $2.7 and $1.9
Info: Rubenstein, D’Aniello and Conway lead leveraged buyout outfit Carlyle Group. Initially used politically connected advisers including ex-president George H. W. Bush and Clinton’s former chief of staff Mack McLarty to buy defense-oriented companies, turn them around and sell for a profit. Today, Carlyle has over $90 billion in assets under management. At end of 2007, the firm owned 224 companies employing more than 350,000 people. Made infamous in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 for investing bin Laden family money.


Oprah Winfrey

Source of power: Oprah
Billions: $2.7
Info: Millions of people turn to Oprah everyday for advice, knowledge and gossip. All that adds up to plenty of influence. Two University of Maryland economics professors estimated that Oprah’s endorsement of Barrack Obama netted him an extra million votes in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Her nod can turn an unknown book into an overnight bestseller.


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Posted By: Michael Sharpe

News Category: Financial, Political, Review


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