By Tia Law
Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helú again tops the list of the 10 wealthiest people for the fourth year in a row, but a generous American is close behind.
According to Forbes, another 200 people became billionaires in the past 12 months, bringing the planet’s total to a record 1,426 billionaires according to the latest tally.
Forbes has been assembling its annual list of the world’s wealthiest individuals since 1987; that year, the financial news magazine found 140 billionaires.
The men and women on the latest list had a net worth, on average, of $3.8 billion, an increase of $100 million from the previous year. All but 259 billionaires saw their net worth increase in the past year. Sixty people dropped off the list — including Zynga (ZNGA) founder and CEO Mark Pincus and ex-Chesapeake Energy (CHK) chief Aubrey McClendon — and another eight died during the year.
Collectively, the world’s billionaires had a net worth of $5.4 trillion, a 17% increase from the previous year.
Carlos Slim Helú of Mexico tops the list for the fourth consecutive year. Slim is followed by Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.) Amancio Ortega, the man behind fashion chain Zara, is the world’s third-wealthiest individual, with a net worth of $57 billion. That’s $19.5 billion more than Ortega was worth in 2011, making the Spaniard the year’s biggest gainer.
The fourth-wealthiest individual, legendary investor Warren Buffett slipped out of the top three for the first time since 2000.