Monday, July 1, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Gates Stays On Top Of Forbes' Richest List -- Asian Tycoons Move Up In Rankings


NEW YORK - Microsoft's Bill Gates remains the world's richest private citizen with an $18 billion fortune, but Asian tycoons are gaining fast as the region grows in economic might, Forbes magazine reports.

Asians make up half of the top 10 in the magazine's annual billionaires ranking, and 123 of the 447 billionaires counted. And Asia's contribution to the world's economic output has risen from 17 percent in 1980 to 25 percent today.

"It's Asia's turn," the magazine said. "Asia, largely a backward area at the end of World War II, is home to more than one in four of the world's great fortunes."

Gates topped the list for the second straight year, his worth growing 40 percent from $12.9 billion last year.

The increase was due largely to the higher value of Microsoft stock. Investors have sent Microsoft's stock up 56 percent so far this year.

No. 2 for the second straight year was Omaha, Neb., investor Warren Buffett, now worth $15.3 billion, up 43 percent from a year earlier. The only other American among the top 10 was Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, holding eighth place at $7.5 billion.

The third-richest person, with $13.1 billion, is retired Swiss industrialist Paul Sacher, still considered influential at the pharmaceutical giant Roche.

Hong Kong real-estate mogul Lee Shau Kee is the highest-ranking Asian, coming in fourth with $12.7 billion. He dethroned property-transportation magnate Yoshiaki Tsutsumi of Japan, who fell to 7th place with $9.2 billion.

Fifth is Tsai Wan-lin of Taiwan, worth $12.2 billion from financial services; sixth is Li Ka-shing, a Hong Kong entrepreneur worth $10.6 billion.

The rest of the top 10: Kenneth Thomson of Canada, worth $7.4 billion in media, retailing and property holdings; and Tan Yu of the Philippines, worth $7 billion from real estate.

Forbes said it excludes from its list royal families and heads of state.

The world's richest woman by Forbes' ranking is Liliane Bettencourt, heir to the cosmetics empire L'Oreal, who is worth $5 billion.

The Forbes ranking appears in the July 15 issue. Its calculations are based on assets as of June 10.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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