Indian pharma kings made money amid recession (Lead, Superseding earlier story)

March 11th, 2009 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, March 11 (IANS) As the number of the world’s billionaires became smaller this year amid the global recession, Indian pharmaceutical kings Malvinder and Shivinder Singh were among a few young tycoons who made money.

The duo added $100 million to their combined net worth, while American energy trader John Arnold added more than $1 billion to his fortune in a chaotic oil market, according to the Forbes list of the “World’s Youngest Billionaires” released Tuesday.

The “tiny club of billionaires age 40 and younger just got a whole lot smaller”, the US business magazine said, noting last year the world’s 20 youngest plutocrats were all under the age of 36.

In 2009, their ages range from 25 to 40. The average age of the world’s 20 youngest billionaires is 35 this year, up from last year’s average of 32.

The average net worth of billionaires age 40 and under is $2.9 billion, down 30 percent from last year’s average of $4.1 billion.

The youngest billionaire in the world is 25-year-old German Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis, who is worth $2.1 billion. The car racing bachelor’s fortune fell nearly 10 percent after the housing crisis crushed real estate and forestry prices.

The prince regained his title as the world’s youngest tycoon thanks to the economic meltdown, which pushed 24-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg off the Forbes ranking.

There are still a few Silicon Valley billionaires on the list of young moguls, including Google guys Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who share the distinction of being the richest billionaires under 40. Each has a $12 billion fortune.

But Brin and Page have seen their fortunes drop more than $6.5 billion since last March, as a sputtering advertising market pushed shares of Google down 30 percent.

Another tech billionaire with a dwindling fortune is former Yahoo! chief executive Jerry Yang. The 40-year-old, who is worth $1.1 billion these days, has lost half of his money in the past 12 months - and control of the famous search engine outfit he co-founded more than a decade ago.

Yang quit as chief executive in January, after the company named Carol Bartz as his replacement.

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