Bill Gates still top dog but rising billionaires catching up

NEW YORK, March 8, 2007 (AFP) – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is still the richest man in the world, but his lead over other entrepreneurs is narrowing, according to Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires published Thursday. Despite Gates leading the rich list for a 13th straight year with a tidy nest egg of 56 billion dollars, US investment guru Warren Buffett’s personal fortune climbed to 52 billion, halving the software mogul’s lead.

There were now a record 946 billionaires in the world, up more than 150 from last year, with Forbes attributing the increase to a commodities boom, the march of technology and relative weakness of the US dollar.

The list’s total net worth grew 35 percent from last year to a staggering 3.5 trillion dollars, with Mexican telecoms mogul Carlos Slim Helu jumping into third place with a massive 19 billion dollar increase in his net worth.

“This growth in the billionaires list is a mere reflection of a dynamic global economy. More people are better off on this Earth than ever before,” said Steve Forbes, the magazine’s editor in chief, unveiling the list.

“This boom goes beyond commodities. One of the things that has facilitated this global boom, bringing hundreds of millions of p