Number of billionaires falls by a third as the rich list is hit by downturn

Over the last twelve months the number of billionaires has fallen by a third as the number of people across the world who are worth over £1billion fallen from 1,125 last year to 793 as the average billionaire had their net worth fall from $3.9bn to $3bn.

Collectively the world’s richest individuals had £1.74 trillion wiped off their fortunes.

The Forbes 2009 World Billionaires list reveals just how some of the worlds richest have been hit by the economic downturn as the world’s richest man Warren Buffet has lost $25bn of his $62bn fortune as many of his investments were in the insurance and financial sectors.

Despite the tough economic climate Bill Gates has been able to reclaim the top spot even though his own fortune has fallen by $18bn to $40bn.

The greatest looser in the lists is the Indian businessman Anil Ambani who’s personal fortune fell from $42bn to $10.1bn, whilst Lakshmi Mittal saw his fortune almost halve.

The fortunes of the world’s biggest entrepreneurs who are responsible for job creation and economic growth have taken a battering as Adolf Merkle a German billionaire jumped in front of a train as his wealth fell.

The Forbes list has experienced its biggest changes in its 23 year history as 355 names have been knocked off this year including Mark Zuckerburg the founder of Facebook.