The World’s 200 Richest People (2005) Compiled by Forbes (Each listing will include the rank, name, age, worth [in $billions], country of citizenship, and residence, along with brief biographical information.) 1 William Gates III, 49, $46.5bn, USA, Medina, Wash. (USA) Industry: Software Marital Status: married , 3 children Harvard University, Drop Out Gates was given honorary knighthood in March, but don’t call him Sir William: the title is only good for citizens of the Commonwealth. He is staying plenty busy pressing Microsoft beyond PCs into television set-top boxes, games, cell phones. “Software is where the action is,” Gates proclaimed to company researchers last August. Competition from rival open source operating system, Linux, is stalling Microsoft’s growth in the server market, but desktop dominance remains intact: Windows installed in 94% of PCs being sold. Next version, Longhorn, should be ready in 2006. Microsoft, meanwhile, is pursuing online music, photos and search software. Gates is methodically diversifying his wealth: He sells 20 million shares each quarter, reinvests through Cascade Investment in non-tech companies, including big stakes in Cox Communications, Canadian National Railway, Republic Services. World’s biggest philanthropist also devoting $27 billion to good deeds. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation fights infectious diseases (hepatitis B, AIDS), funds vaccine development, helps high schools. 2 Warren Buffett, 74, $44.0bn, USA, Omaha, Neb. (USA) Industry: Investments Marital Status: widowed , 3 children University of Nebraska Lincoln, Bachelor of Arts / Science Columbia University, Master of Science Newspaper delivery boy filed first 1040 at age 13; claimed $35 deduction for bicycle. Studied under Benjamin Graham at Columbia. Applied value-investing principles to build Berkshire Hathaway to $133 billion (market cap) holding company: insurance, energy, carpets, jewelry, furniture, paint (Benjamin Moore), apparel (Fruit of the Loom). Also big stakes in American Express, Coca-Cola, Gillette (now set to merge with Procter & Gamble). Admits Berkshire’s $30 billion-plus cash hoard is underutilized: “It’s a painful condition to be in, but not as painful as doing something stupid... [Vice Chairman] Charlie [Munger] and I detest taking even small risks.” Recent bets include Pier One Imports, Comcast, food distributor McLane. Bought mobilehome maker Clayton Homes after reading autobiography by company founder. “If we fail, we will have no excuses.” Since taking control of Berkshire has delivered compound annual return of 24%. Outspoken opponent of Bush tax cuts, courted as adviser to pols Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Kerry. Critic of lax corporate governance, became target of failed campaign to vote him off Coca-Cola board. Fanatical supporters still far outnumber critics: Berkshire’s folksy annual meeting crowds routinely top 15,000. 3 Lakshmi Mittal, 54, $25.0bn, India, London (UK) Industry: Manufacturing Marital Status: married , 2 children St. Xavier’s College Calcutta, Bachelor of Arts / Science Coming-out year for the steel titan, who now oversees the world’s largest steel company, Mittal Steel. In December he merged his Ispat International with Ohio-based International Steel Group. Owns 88% of the $31.5 billion (sales) company. Recently shelled out $100 million for a new 12-bedroom mansion in London’s posh Kensington neighborhood. Also reportedly dropped $60 million to host his daughter’s five-day-long wedding celebration in Versailles last summer.