Nearshore Americas

Brazil Tops Canada in Number of Billionaires; Now Second in Nearshore Region

Source: Montreal Gazette

NEW YORK — Canada lost its top ranking to Brazil this year on Forbes magazine’s list of the number of billionaires each country boasts in the Americas outside the United States, the magazine said Wednesday in its annual richest-people edition.

The ranking for countries in the magazine’s “Latin America and Canada” region shows Brazil with 30 billionaires, Canada with 24.

But Canada’s resurging stock market, coupled with Mexico’s, were leading factors driving up the region’s combined billionaire wealth to a record $419 billion, the magazine’s editors said.

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Steve Forbes, the magazine’s namesake, also saluted one of the three new Canadians among the 1,210 billionaires the magazine names globally based on its research to Feb. 14.

“Who would have thought stretching out could stretch your wealth to over a billion dollars?” he said of Dennis “Chip” Wilson, founder of the yoga-inspired athletic clothing company, Lululemon Athletica Inc., based in Vancouver.

Wilson is ranked 651st on the list with a current total wealth of $1.9 billion. The other Canadians new to the list are auto parts magnet Frank Stronach, who is 736th with $1.7 billion; and financier Gerald Schwartz, who is 1,140th with $1 billion.

The list’s top three remain unchanged from last year’s ranking. The world’s richest person is Mexico’s telecoms titan Carlos Slim Helu and family, with $74 billion. He was also the biggest gainer, adding $20.5 billion to his wealth.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft chief-turned philanthropist, is second with $56 billion — and reportedly would be the richest person on the list if he were not giving so much away.

Third is Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, with $50 billion; Buffett has also pledged to give it all away.

But the list is fluid, with 214 new billionaires, and many others who saw their wealth either increase or decrease.

“The list reflects the extraordinary change taking place in the global economy,” said Forbes. “When markets are opened up, when economies are liberalized, entrepreneurs come from the most unlikely places, and are creating wealth.”

Forbes took a swipe at what he called the “Hollywood myth,” which he said portrays the richest of the rich as people “sitting around rubbing their hands and trying to make us miserable.

“These are very scrappy individuals, very focused individuals who, because they are so focused … they tend to have a knack for making things happen.”

He said many on the list have “experienced failure,” and some on lists of past years have fallen off.

The United States continues to lead the world, with 413 billionaires. But the Asia-Pacific region had the most newcomers, with 105. Even Europe had 50 newcomers compared to the 23 in the United States.

In the Middle East and Africa, 10 of the 19 new billionaires were in Turkey, and another four were in Israel.

The man the magazine describes as this year’s “biggest loser” is Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, who was number 11 on last year’s list, but whose fortune fell from $17 billion to $6 billion, placing him at number 162 in the current list.

To stand the best chance of making it to next year’s list, Forbes senior editor Luisa Kroll mused about recommending a move to the Chinese cities of Shanghai and the former fishing village of Shenzhen. Each city hosts 13 of China’s 115 billionaires (not including Hong Kong, which has 36).

“You can be in a lot of different industries,” Kroll said. “There’s just a lot more action (there).”

But she didn’t write off the possibility of still making a fortune in the United States in technology.

“The tech companies continue to be a place where you can make huge fortunes,” Kroll said. “People who are really creative and take risk, sometimes it pays off.”

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The richest Canadian remains David Thomson and family: they rose from 20th place last year to 17th this year after increasing their media fortune by $4 billion to $23 billion. Thomson was also the biggest Canadian “gainer.” Next is retailer Galen Weston and family, 133 on the list with $7.1 billion.

The biggest Canadian “loser” was Barry Sherman, who made his fortune in pharmaceuticals. He is listed at 393, down from 297 after his wealth fell by $900 million to $2.9 billion.

“The top holders continue to be the same, but there are some new guys, (and) I think it’s a small bump in the stock exchange (that) helped,” said Keren Blankfeld, a Forbes staff writer.

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Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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