How many billionaires live in the most unequal region in the world? Exactly 111 people can count their wealth at more than $1 billion, according to consultancy firm Wealth-X and Swiss bank UBS. 2013 saw the list grow by three names compared to 2012; their combined wealth reaches $496 billion, or 2.3 percent more than the previous year.
As Bloomberg released its Billionaire List of the 300 richest people in the world, a handful of Latin American visionaries, entrepreneurs and investors made the cut.
Brazil, largest economy in the region, offers the largest chunk. Leading the list is Jorge Paulo Lemann, number 34 in the world, with a wealth of $22.3 billion. The investor, who has stakes in several food and drink companies like Burger King (NYSE:BKC) and Heinz (NYSE:HNZ), lost 2.4 percent of his wealth last year due to the drop in the Brazilian economy, but that it was a minor bump in the billionaire’s successful investment career.
Other Brazilians in the list are banker Joseph Safra, number 92, with $12.4 billion; brothers João, José and Roberto Marinho, owners of the Globo media conglomerate, at 165, 166 and 167, with $7.7 billion each; and Lemann’s partners, Marcel Telles, number 113 with $10.4 billion, and Carlos da Veiga, at 138 with $8.9 billion.
Notably absent from the list is oil mogul Eike Batista, who only last year crowned the list of richest people in Brazil and is now facing bankruptcy.
Mexico, the region's second-largest economy, is home to the richest man in Latin America: communications mogul Carlos Slim, second in the world rankings only to Bill Gates, with a wealth of $72 billion. However, his investments in Philip Morris (NYSE:PM), the New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT), clothing store Saks (NYSE:SKS) and Spanish Caixabank (MCE:CABK) suffered in 2013, bringing down the value of his assets by 2.5 percent.
Right after Slim is Alberto Bareilles, investor in mining, insurances and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), who scored position 58. His wealth is estimated at $15.6 billion.
Other countries with a smaller presence are Chile and Colombia. Iris Fontbona, the only Chilean, inherited her late husband Andrónico Luksic’s shares in the Bank of Chile, beer company CCU and holding Quinenco and sprinted to position 61 with $15.3 billion.
Media mogul Luis Sarmiento and investor Alejandro Santo Domingo represent Colombia. Sarmiento, who owns Colombian newspaper El Tiempo and has shares in finance group Aval and construction company Construcciones Planificadas, is in the 51st position with $16.4 billion. Santo Domingo, at position 79, has a wealth of $13.3 billion from his shares in brewer SABMiller Plc (LON:SAB), TV channel Caracol, and Brazilian bank BTG Pactual.
It is unclear how much of the wealth of the region falls into the top 1 percent, but according to journalist Alejandro Rebossio from Spanish newspaper El País, Colombia is the country in the world where the richest people accumulate the largest chunk of wealth: 20.4 percent, compared to 19.3 percent in the U.S. and 16.7 percent in Argentina.
Latin America is the most unequal of the regions in the world. According to the World Bank’s Gini index, the most commonly used measure of inequality, which takes into account the percentages of total income against the number of recipients and expresses the difference between poorest and richest, Latin America has an average of 50. With 0 showing absolute equality and 100 perfectly unequal, the region fares at the top of unequal areas, compared to the European Union (30) and Asia (46).
Patricia covers Latin America for the International Business Times.
Before joining IBT in March 2013, she worked at BBC America in New York, La República in Lima...