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Words in the News
 
Friday 28 February 2003
 
The world's billionaires
 
Bill Gates The American business magazine Forbes has published its list of the world's billionaires. As a group, they're worth $141bn less this year because many shares are worth less, but their combined wealth is still equal to the UK's Gross Domestic Product. This report from Louise Cooper:
 
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Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, still tops the list, worth a cool $40bn despite the fall in value of technology companies. Investment guru Warren Buffett comes in at number two, worth ten billion less than the mighty Bill. But if you combine the wealth of the Walton family, who set up the world's largest retailer, Walmart, they are worth $82bn. But Alice, Helen, Jim, John, and Robson are listed separately in this survey. America still has the largest number of billionaires…221. And for the first time, a black American woman makes the list, the entertainer famous for her confessional TV programme, Oprah Winfrey.
Germany has the second largest number of billionaires - 43 family groups reach the 10 figure number and Japan's next with 19 billionaires - one of the richest made his cash through golf courses. The second richest man in Europe is Ingvar Kamprad who set up the home store Ikea. And surprisingly after Germany, the European country with the highest number of billionaires is Russia, 17 in total. Most made their money in oil, buying assets at rock bottom prices when the government privatised the industry. The black gold has also continued to prove lucrative for Saudi Arabia - it has nine men who make the list. Entrepreneurs in both France and Italy have made oodles of cash pampering to the high maintenance woman. Families who set up companies such as Prada, Chanel and Armani are reaping the benefits. And the richest man in Ireland, John Dorrance, how did he make his billions? Well, in soup!
 
 
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a cool $40bn
 
an informal term used to talk about very large sums of money – in this case $40bn
 
the mighty Bill
 
the powerful Bill (Gates)
 
confessional TV programme
 
a television programme during which people reveal their secrets - usually about bad things that they’ve done
 
rock bottom prices
 
the lowest possible prices
 
black gold
 
an informal name for oil
 
lucrative
 
very profitable, makes lots of money
 
oodles of cash
 
lots of money
 
pampering to
 
if you pamper to someone, you try to do everything possible to please them
 
the high maintenance woman
 
a woman who spends a lot of money trying to have a perfect look and lifestyle
 
 
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