You are hereReuters: Bill Gates's philanthropy costs him richest-man title

Reuters: Bill Gates's philanthropy costs him richest-man title


Bill Gates didn't lose his title as the world's richest man last year; he gave it away by plowing billions into his charitable foundation, experts say.

March 8, 2011- Forbes will release its 2011 billionaires list on Wednesday and Gates, investor Warren Buffett and last year's richest man, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, will almost certainly be in the top three. The trio have topped the list for the past five years.

But it would be no contest if Microsoft co-founder Gates had not already given away more than a third of his wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on global health and development and U.S. education.

"It wouldn't be a competition," said David Lincoln, director of global valuations at wealth research firm Wealth-X. "(Gates) would have a comfortable margin if he had never discovered philanthropy."

Lincoln said Gates was currently worth about $49 billion, behind Slim, whose fortune he estimated at $60 billion. Buffett, also a philanthropist, is now worth some $47 billion.

But had Gates not given away any money, he would be worth $88 billion, Lincoln said.

Gates and his wife Melinda have so far given $28 billion to their foundation, the largest in the United States.

Forbes' 2010 billionaires list put Gates' fortune at $53 billion, but he was knocked into second spot by Slim's $53.5 billion, losing the crown for only the second time since 1995.

Slim has said businessmen do more good by creating jobs and wealth through investment, "not by being Santa Claus," and while he has still pledged several billion dollars to charity, his efforts have been a fraction of Gates's philanthropy.

Buffett, who Forbes ranked as the third richest man in the world last year with $47 billion, has also pledged almost all of his fortune to the Gates Foundation and has given $8 billion to the organization since 2006.

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