Mittal, Ambani, listed among World’s Most Powerful Billionaires

February 14th, 2009 - 10:34 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 14 (IANS) India-born steel czar Lakshimi Mittal and head of India’s largest company Mukesh Ambani figure among Forbes list of “World’s Most Powerful Billionaires” who wield a staggering authority and influence far beyond their riches.

Ranking third on the global list compiled by US business magazine is Lakshimi Mittal who “controls 10 percent of the world’s steel production through his company ArcelorMittal” despite his fortune falling $24.5 billion between March and November 2008.

“Born in India but lives in London, where his political clout often incites controversy,” it said noting “In 2002, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly wrote a letter to the Romanian prime minister hinting a sale of the country’s steel company to Mittal would facilitate its entrance into the European Union.”

Figuring seventh on the list is Mukesh Ambani, who heads “petrochemicals giant Reliance Industries, Indian’s largest company by market cap.” Forbes noted he produces oil, gas, petrochemicals and textiles and is personally funding construction of a 27-story home in Mumbai that could cost $2 billion.

Giving the rationale behind the list, Forbes noted last March, there were 1,125 billionaires in the world, each wielding tremendous wealth and weight over the markets and industries in which they operate.

“But few plutocrats possess the money, economic dominance and political clout to touch-or the potential to touch-all of us,” it said compiling its list with a formula based on the size and scope of the industries billionaires control, the political influence they exert and the fortunes they hold.

Heading the list is Michael Bloomberg, who as mayor of New York City - America’s largest and most complex metropolis - “lords over more than 8 million people speaking 40 different languages within 305 square miles. He commands 311,000 city employees and an annual budget of $60 billion.”

Behind Bloomberg is Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who heads a nation of 58 million people, a diversified industrial economy with a gross domestic product of $2.4 trillion and a military budget of roughly $43 billion.

But perhaps no billionaire has more control over how America spends its disposable cash than Oprah Winfrey, 20th on its list, said Forbes noting “Her daily talk show airs in 141 countries and reaches more than 46 million viewers.”

Citing research compiled by two University of Maryland economics professors, Forbes said, Oprah’s endorsement of Barack Obama lent him an estimated additional one million votes in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

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