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Ricardo Salinas Pliego & family

Iris Fontbona & family GLOBAL RANK: 32

GLOBAL RANK: 37

CHILE MINING

MEXICO RETAIL, MEDIA

Fontbona is the widow of mining and banking magnate Andrónico Luksic, who died in 2005. Her family controls Antofagasta, one of the world’s largest copper miners. A decline in the miner’s share price shaved nearly $1.4 billion off her net worth since March 2011. The clan also holds shares in Quiñenco, a consumer packaging and beverage maker, and Plava Laguna, a chain of Croatian beach resorts. During a December 2011 telethon, the usually press-averse Fontbona publicly donated $3 million to help Chileans with disabilities.

Salinas Pliego is the world’s biggest gainer in dollar terms. His net worth is $9.2 billion higher than a year ago thanks to a more than doubling of the share price of Mexicolisted home appliance and electronics retailer Grupo Elektra. Analysts point to a small float as one reason for the price spike; an equity swap with UBS and a new placement on the Mexican stock index further reduced supply and drove share prices higher. He also controls Mexico’s second-largest broadcaster, TV Azteca, and wireless phone company Iusacell.

$17.4 BILLION 

$17.8 BILLION 

Alberto Bailleres Gonzalez & family GLOBAL RANK: 38

$16.5 BILLION 

MEXICO MINING

GLOBAL RANK: 48

Bailleres chairs Mexico’s second-largest mining company, Industrias Peñoles, one of the world’s largest silver miners. Thanks to higher prices for precious metals and the opening of his El Saucito mine in Zacatecas, his fortune is up $4.6 billion since 2011 on a steep rise in Industrias Peñoles’ share price; his 69% stake is worth $13.4 billion. He is reportedly a patron of bullfighting.

David Thomson & family GLOBAL RANK: 35

$17.5 BILLION 

CANADA MEDIA

Thomson, a camera-shy media magnate and chairman of Thomson Reuters, stepped into the spotlight this past year with a deal in which he helped buy the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers, relocate them to Canada and rename them the Winnipeg Jets. Thomson’s net worth fell $5.5 billion due to a near 30% drop since March 2011 in Thomson Reuters’ share price. CHANGE IN FORTUNE:

 UP

 DOWN

 UNCHANGED

´ NEW TO LIST

German Larrea Mota Velasco & family

$14.2 BILLION 

MEXICO MINING

The media-shy Larrea reigns as Mexico’s copper king. His copper producer, Grupo México, had another stellar year, revenue-wise. But with stock prices slightly down, Larrea and his family, who control 51% of the mining conglomerate, saw their fortune drop by $1.8 billion since last year. Larrea remains elusive, avoiding journalists and photographers.

RETURN

MARCH 26, 2012

FORBES | 79

Forbes Billionaires 2012 - Americas  

A list of the top 20 richest billionaires in the Americas, as seen in the March 26, 2012 issue of Forbes magazine.