Report: Gates no longer world's richest

Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect, is no longer the world's richest man, according to a survey released over the weekend by The Sunday Times newspaper in London.

Amid the high-tech retreat of the past year, Gates' fortune has slumped, shrinking from 53.1 billion pounds to just 37.5 billion pounds (US$76.6 billion to $54.1 billion). American retail magnate Sam Walton, who runs the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. international retail chain, jumped into the top spot in the 2001 survey with 45.3 billion pounds.

Meanwhile, Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison leapt to third place in this year's survey with assets of 29 billion pounds. Amid a yearlong market downturn that has helped to shrink the fortunes of many high-tech tycoons -- Microsoft president Steve Ballmer, Microsoft co-founder and board member Paul Allen, Dell founder Michael Dell and Gateway founders Ted and Norman Waitt among them -- Ellison showed a big gain. Last year he was worth 8.1 billion pounds and ranked near the bottom of the top 20, roughly tied with U.S. chemicals magnate Pierre du Pont for 17th place.

The Sunday Times survey used the Forbes 400 list from October 2000 and the Forbes Global list of July 2000 and adjusted the figures where possible to reflect changes in the value of assets, such as stock prices.

Allen this year is ranked sixth, with 17 billion pounds. Ballmer is worth 10.5 billion pounds, down from 14.3 billion, and ranked 15th. Dell's assets fell to 7.8 billion pounds from 12.5 billion, giving him a ranking of 25. The Waitts are worth 7.1 billion pounds in the 2001 survey, up from 4.8 billion.

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