Three New Zealanders are among the world's 1226 billionaires, with the country's richest man, Graeme Hart, clocking up a US$5.7 billion (NZ$7b) net worth.

New Zealand brothers Richard and Christopher Chandler also made the Forbes Rich List with US$4.6 billion (NZ$5.6b) and $1 billion (NZ$1.2b) respectively.

The richest person in the world was for the third year in a row Carlos Slim Hel, the telecommunications tycoon who controls Mexico's America Movil, but the gap between him and Microsoft founder Bill Gates is closing.

Hel's fortune, at US$69 billion, is down US$5 billion, while Gates added US$5 billion to his pile and is now up to US$61 billion as Microsoft shares hit a 10-year high.


At 178 on the list, Hart jumped seven places on the list. He made his money through his packaging empire Rank Group, which Hart conceived as an MBA student at the University of Otago.

Rank's past acquisitions have included Carter Holt Harvey, Swiss packager SIG, Alcoa's former packaging unit, Reynolds Consumer Products and Closure Systems International.

Richard Chandler got his start in 1986 when he and brother Christopher sold their parents' retailing business to invest in Hong Kong real estate.

The siblings then formed investment firm Sovereign Global in Monaco to focus on transitioning industries in Russia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

After they split in 2006, Richard started a Singapore-based fund now called Richard Chandler Corporation. It is embattled Chinese timber company Sino-Forest's biggest shareholder.

Christopher Chandler heads Legatum Capital, a private multibillion dollar investment firm that focuses on the world's capital markets.

Other notable billionaires on the list include Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who is worth US$17.5 billion, up US$4 billion from a year ago.

Christy Walton, who is the widow of John T. Walton, one of the sons of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, is the richest woman in the world with US$25.3 billion, putting her at number 11 on the list.