NEW YORK - Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is back on top of the list of the world's richest people after a four-year hiatus. Charleston busineswoman Anita Zucker also again made the list, released Monday by Forbes magazine.
Gates, who led the list for 15 of the past 20 years, won the spot back from Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, who had topped the list for the past four years. Gates' net worth is estimated at $76 billion; Slim Helu follows at $72 billion.
Spanish clothing magnate Amancio Ortega, known for the Zara retail chain, maintained his third-ranked spot and came out ahead of famed U.S. investor Warren Buffett, who ranked fourth. Larry Ellison of Oracle came in fifth.
Forbes says a record 1,645 billionaires made the list this year, with an average net worth of $4.7 billion. That's up from 1,426 billionaires last year with a net worth of $4.2 billion. Total net worth of this year's list was $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion last year.
Zucker was ranked No. 663 worldwide, with a net worth estimated at $2.6 billion. She was No. 237 in the United States.
Zucker, 62, is CEO of The InterTech Group Inc., a North Charleston-based company her husband, Jerry, founded in 1982. After he died in 2008, she inherited the maker of specialty chemicals, high-tech fibers and precision aircraft parts. Her son, Jonathan Zucker, is president.
TIG Sun Energy, a subsidiary of InterTech, opened the largest solar farm in South Carolina in January near Walterboro. Her family also owns the Carolina Ice Palace and half of the South Carolina Stingrays minor league hockey team.
According to Forbes' calculations, Zucker's net wealth has increased by $1 billion, or 63 percent, since 2011.
Forbes said that 1,080 of the world's 2014 billionaires were self-made, 207 inherited their wealth and 352 inherited a portion but are still growing it.
The largest net worth gainer on the list was Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who more than doubled his fortune to $28.5 billion as the value of his company's stock soared. He ranks 21st on the list.
The social media giant helped bring a few notable newcomers to the list, including Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton, who recently sold their business to Facebook for $19 billion.
Forbes said 268 billionaires were new to the list, beating out a prior high of 226 newcomers in 2008. And a record number of women made the list this year, with 172 women joining, up 25 percent from last year.
Altogether 100 people dropped out of the rankings, while 16 passed away.
The U.S. was the country with the greatest number of billionaires at 492, followed by China with 152 and Russia with 111. Billionaires from four new countries joined, adding Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda to the geographic mix.
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