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Monday, October 18, 2010

Forbes 400: The Richest People in America - Part 2

This post continues from Forbes 400: The Richest People in America

3. Larry Ellison
Net Worth: $27 billion
Source: Oracle
Residence: Woodside, Calif.
Age: 66

The Oracle chief brazenly chastised Hewlett-Packard for ousting its former head Mark Hurd over his relationship with a marketing contractor. Then he turned around and hired Hurd weeks later to replace Oracle's co-president, Charles Phillips, who resigned at the same time. HP sued Hurd, prompting Ellison to say that HP was making it "virtually impossible" for the 2 companies to do business together. (The two parties recently settled). Oracle, which has acquired 66 companies over the years, figured out a way to turn a profit on its latest big buy, Sun Microsystems, in 2010. One of the highest-paid executives in the country, Ellison has gotten $960 million in compensation in the past 5 fiscal years, mostly from the exercise of stock options; he recently cut his salary to $1. Ellison's fortune is almost entirely tied up in Oracle; he also owns a $580 million stake in Web business-software outfit Netsuite and is one of the largest private land owners in celebrity haven Malibu, Calif. Ellison has 2 houses in the Bay Area: Japanese-style compound in Silicon Valley and bay-view mansion in San Francisco. An avid yachtsman, Ellison spent a decade and over $100 million on his quest for the America's Cup, which he finally won in February. He beat his Swiss rival Ernesto Bertarelli, thanks in part to a trimaran with a rigid main sail longer than a Boeing 747's wingspan. Now he's deciding where to take the next Cup, said to favor backyard, in San Francisco. He intends to give 95% of wealth to charity.

4. Christy Walton & Family
Net Worth: $24 billion
Source: Wal-Mart
Residence: Jackson, Wy.
Age: 55

The widow of John Walton inherited her wealth after the former Green Beret and Vietnam war medic died in an airplane accident near his home in Wyoming 2005. She got an extra bump in her fortune because of her late husband's early investment in First Solar; shares up more than 400% since 2006 initial public offering. But bulk still comes from her shares in Wal-Mart, the retailer founded by her father-in-law Sam Walton and his brother James in 1962. Today Wal-Mart has sales of $405 billion, and employs more than 2.0 million people. The philanthropist supports museums, education and organic gardening.

5. Charles Koch (tie)
Net Worth: $21.5 billion
Source: manufacturing, energy
Residence: Wichita, Kan.
Age: 74

Since inheriting control of the refining business of his dad, Frederick, in 1967, Charles Koch has expanded the Wichita conglomerate more than 100-fold to $100 billion in revenues; it is now the second-largest private company in the U.S. behind Cargill. Biggest deal to date: The $21 billion purchase of building-products maker Georgia Pacific right before the housing market crashed. Charles and brother David bought out sibs Frederick and William for $790 million in 1983. Each year Charles and David reinvest 90% of profits in the business, with enough left to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into their pet charities and causes, a mix of libertarian think tanks and New York City arts institutions. Most recently they angered California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger by giving $1 million to help efforts to overturn the state's climate change regulations.

5. David Koch (tie)
Net Worth: $21.5 billion
Source: manufacturing, energy
Residence: New York, N.Y.
Age: 70

More gregarious than his brother Charles, David Koch may have made his shrewdest decision in 1983 when he kept his stock in Koch Industries instead of selling out like his brothers William and Frederick, who got about $790 million for their stakes. Since then the company has expanded rapidly and now is worth more than $50 billion; it has interests in pipelines, refineries, Lycra, Dixie Cups. David, who was the Libertarian Party's candidate for vice president in 1980, restricts his political activities now mostly to supporting conservative think tanks and activist organizations. Most recently he and Charles angered California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger by giving $1 million to help efforts to overturn the state's climate change regulations. From his home base in New York City he runs Koch's chemical technology group. He and his wife, Julia, are also active on the charity circuit and have given or pledged $600 million, mostly to cancer research and the arts since 2000; he sits on 26 nonprofit boards.

7. Jim Walton
Net Worth: $20.1 billion
Source: Wal-Mart
Residence: Bentonville, Ark.
Age: 62

Jim is currently chairman and chief executive of family's Arvest Bank; also chairs local newspaper company Community Publishers. Sam Walton's youngest son has served on Wal-Mart's board of directors since brother John's death in 2005. While Wal-Mart's shares are nearly flat over the past year, the 3 children of the founder collected $1.2 billion in dividends. A former clerk, Sam Walton (d.1992) founded Bentonville store with brother James 1962; today Wal-Mart has sales of $405 billion, employs more than 2.1 million people.

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