Gates richer, Ellison out of top 10 billionaires list

Technology can still create new fortunes, according to Forbes magazine’s 2006 annual list of the world’s billionaires.

The founder of Indian software giant Infosys Technologies Ltd. and the top executives of Taiwan’s High-Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) and Via Technologies Inc. entered the list for the first time over the past year, as Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates held on to the top spot and the founders of Google got richer. The list appeared online Thursday.

New entrants to the list included Narayana Murthy, co-founder and chairman of Infosys, who is worth US$1.2 billion and ranked No. 645 out of 793 billionaires. Cher Wang and Wenchi Chen, the husband-and-wife team behind HTC and Via, entered the list at No. 365 with total holdings of $2.1 billion. Shares of HTC quintupled over the past year, according to Forbes. HTC makes mobile phones for operators including T-Mobile International AG & Co. KG and O2 PLC, as well as the Hewlett-Packard Co. iPaq handhelds.

Another new technology billionaire came in even closer to the front line: Anurag Dikshit, 34, who runs online gambling company PartyGaming PLC from Gibraltar, is ranked No. 207 and worth $3.3 billion. The Indian citizen, who lives in Gibraltar, the Middle East and Africa, took the company public on the London Stock Exchange last year.

And video game tycoon Hajime Satomi, 64, of Japan, entered the list at No. 698 with a net worth of $1.1 billion. He founded slot-machine maker Sammy and in 2004 bought out Sega Corp., then combined the two to form Sega Sammy Holdings Inc.

Gates was the world’s wealthiest person for the 12th year in a row. He got richer over the past 12 months, expanding his fortune to $50 billion from $46.5 billion. Behind him once again was investor Warren Buffett, but Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu jumped into the No. 3 slot with $30 billion. Helu owns fixed-line carrier Telmex and mobile operator America Movil, and he played a role in last year’s fight for MCI Inc. by selling his 13.4 per cent stake in the company to Verizon Communications Inc.

Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page, tied for 55th last year with $7.2 billion each, this year jumped to 26th and 27th place, respectively, with Brin worth $12.9 billion and Page sitting on a cool $12.8 billion.

Among other top-ranked IT tycoons, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen moved up to sixth place from seventh with a fortune of $22 billion and Dell Inc. Chairman Michael Dell jumped from No. 18 to No. 12 with $17.1 billion. But Oracle Corp.

Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison saw his net worth fall to $16 billion from $18.4 billion and his rank among the world’s richest from ninth to 15th.

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