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Monday, March 10, 2014
Women in Action: Meet Money Making Women of 2014
It was a record-breaking year for women on the FORBES list of the World Billionaires. Out of 1,645 billionaires, a record 172 are women – up from 138 last year. There’s no denying that women are still a tiny minority on the list, representing a little over 10% of the total.
At the top, Christy Walton reclaims her spot as the richest woman with a $36.7 billion fortune. The widow of John Walton has had that title for four out of the last five years. She has boosted her fortune above the rest of the Walton family members through her ownership of First Solar shares. That stock rose nearly 50% in the past year.
Back in second place after a year at the top: Liliane Bettencourt, worth $34.5 billion. The L’Oreal heiress remains France’s richest person. Her fortune increased this year thanks to the company’s stock surging. She is 91, and it’s been years since she’s been involved in running the company.
The third richest woman is another Walton family member – Alice Walton($34.3 billion). The daughter of visionary retailer Sam Walton is Christy’s sister-in-law. She opened her Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas in 2011. It features works from her personal collection.
Notably, of the 268 newcomers to the ranks, 42 are women. However, only five of them built their own fortunes as opposed to inheriting them from their parents or husbands. These five remarkable women include Sheryl Sandberg($1.05 billion), who leaned into a COO position at Facebook and 12 million or so shares in the company. With the social networking firm’s share price up more than 130% in the past 12 months, she is now one of the world’s youngest self-made women billionaires.
The other newcomer self-made billionaire women include Folorunsho Alakija($2.5 billion), Nigeria’s first female billionaire, whose Famfa Oil owns a prolific oil bloc. There’s UK’s Denise Coates ($1.6 billion), the co-CEO and largest shareholder of online gambling site Bet365; Liu Xiaomeng ($1 billion), who holds a stake in the Suning Appliance Group, which in turn owns 14% of Suning Commerce Group, China’s largest appliance retailer; and Wang Laichun ($1 billion) Chairman of Shenzhen Luxshare Precision Industry Co., Ltd.
Newcomers that came to their fortunes through an inheritance include Sandra Mera Ortega, daughter of the late billionaire Rosalia Mera. Mera, along with then husband and now third-richest person in the world, founded clothing giant Inditex (best known for its Zara brand).
Finally, in a case involving a very loyal daughter, this year’s youngest billionaire is a woman. Perenna Kei, at only 24 years old, is the controlling owner of Chinese real estate giant Logan Properties. Kei is the daughter of Logan’s chairman and CEO, Ji Haipeng. Company documents indicate that she is the majority shareholder, the settler of the trust and acts “in accordance with Mr. Ji’s directions.” The company went public in December 2013 and its stock rose 2.4% on the first day of trading, making Kei a billionaire.
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