How the world’s richest people make their money

New data published in the Hurun Global Rich List 2017 report, a ranking of the US dollar billionaires, shows how the world’s mega-rich came to make their money.

The rich list ranked 2,257 billionaires from 68 countries and from 1,811 companies in another record-breaking year for the world’s billionaires.

Total wealth increased by 16% to US$8.0 trillion equivalent to 10.7% of global GDP, and up from 7% of global GDP five years ago.

78 billionaires are major shareholders of Fortune Global 500 companies, led by 27 from the USA and 6 from China.

Self-made billionaires make up 67% of those listed, with 33% inheriting their wealth. Self-made, but with help from parents through a private education, was the most common route to becoming a billionaire, the report found.

Source of Wealth by Industry

The authors of the report noted that it has been a great year for Logistics and Retail, up 15% and 13% respectively in terms of the number of billionaires, and a bad year for Manufacturing and Real Estate, down 11% and 10%.

Real estate dropped down from second to fourth place. Manufacturing and investments both rose one place.

Tech, Manufacturing and Investments were the main source of wealth for one third of the list. USA and China accounted for 71% of The technology, media, and telecom (TMT) billionaires in the list.

Wealth in logistics increased 25% year-on-year to become the top performing sector of the year. Chinese dominated this sector. Wang Wei, 46, of SF Express shot up five-fold to a net worth of US$27 billion, on the back of an IPO in February.

#  Industry % of Billionaires  % Change  Richest Company
1 Technology, Media, and Telecoms 13.2% -2.9% Jeff Bezos Amazon
2 Manufacturing 10.5% -10.9% Georg Schaeffler Schaeffler Group
 3 Investments 9.5% -1.4% Bill Gates Microsoft
4 Real Estate 9.4% -10.4% Wang Jianlin & family Wanda
 5 Retail 8.8% 13.1% Amancio Ortega Inditex
 6 Food & Beverages  7.2% 1.9% Tatiana Casiraghi SABMiller
 7 Energy  5.0% -2.6% Charles & David Koch Koch Industry
 8 Financial Services  5.0%  1.8% Thomas Peterffy Interactive Brokers
 9 Pharmaceuticals  4.9%  3.8% Dilip Shanghvi Sun Pharma
 10 Construction  2.9% 14.8% Yan Hao & family China Pacific Construction

For South Africa‘s dollar billionaires, their wealth has been accumulated through various sectors, led by Nicky Oppenheimer thanks to diamond giant De Beers.

Patrice Motsepe, the country’s fifth wealthiest person, has also primarily accumulated his wealth through the mining industry.

# Name  Net worth Industry
1 Nicky Oppenheimer $6 billion Basic Minerals
2 Christo Wiese $6 billion Luxury Goods
3 Johann Rupert $4.6 billion Retail
4 Koos Bekker $1.6 billion Media
5 Patrice Motsepe $1 billion Basic Minerals
6 Stephen Saad $1 billion Healthcare

Last year, New World Wealth, in partnership with MasterCard, released data on South Africa’s richest population group, showing exactly how the country’s wealthiest made their money.


Read: These are the richest billionaires in South Africa in 2017

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How the world’s richest people make their money