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Jennifer Robison

LV billionaires take beating on Forbes' list

7 March 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A global survey of the wealthy shows 2007 wasn't a vintage year for Southern Nevada's richest residents and visitors.

Forbes magazine's list of the world's billionaires, on newsstands now, point to eroding assets or falling rankings for several of the dozen or so Las Vegas citizens and habitués flush enough to land on the roster.

The latest list also shows Warren Buffett is now the world's richest man. Plus, the billionaires' roster welcomed two local first-timers.

Sheldon Adelson, the wealthiest Las Vegan on Forbes' list, fell from No. 6 on last year's list to No. 12 this year. The Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman and chief executive officer's net worth slid from $26.5 billion to $26 billion in the year before Feb. 11, the magazine's research found.

Also losing ground in both net worth and Forbes ranking were eBay designer and Henderson resident Pierre Omidyar, Wynn Resorts Ltd. partner Kazuo Okada and Viacom owner Sumner Redstone, a frequent Las Vegas gambler.

Omidyar's net worth dropped from $8.8 billion to $7.7 billion, and his rank dropped from No. 76 to No. 120. Okada, who lives in Japan and also heads slot-machine maker Aruze Corp., went from No. 432 to No. 573. His net worth dipped from $2.2 billion to $2.1 billion. And Redstone's net worth tumbled from $8 billion to $6.6 billion, taking him from No. 86 to No. 137.

Members of the Fertitta family, who founded and own locals gaming company Station Casinos, debuted on the list this year.

Brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta entered the roster at No. 897, with $1.3 billion each. In addition to Station, the Fertittas own the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a mixed martial arts league.

Thomas Barrack, the Colony Capital founder who helped the Fertittas take Station Casinos private in 2007 for $9 billion, is worth $2.3 billion, good enough for No. 524 on the Forbes list.

Sweets and commercial real estate proved lucrative businesses last year.

Three members of the family that owns Henderson chocolate maker Ethel M posted big gains in assets and rank. Forrest Edward Mars Jr., Jacqueline Mars and John Franklyn Mars saw their individual net worth rise from $10.5 billion to $14 billion, and their rankings go from No. 58 to No. 46.

And a faltering national real estate market didn't hurt Edward Roski Jr., owner of the Silverton hotel-casino and holders of 73 million square feet of commercial property in the south and southwest United States. Roski's net worth jumped from $1.8 billion to $2.3 billion, and pushed him up 33 spots to No. 524.

Carl Icahn, who sold the Stratosphere and Arizona Charlie's casinos in Las Vegas in February, dropped four spots to No. 46, even though his net worth edged up from $13 billion to $14 billion. Forbes' report shows Icahn's net worth roughly doubling from 2006, when he was worth $7.6 billion.

Net worth for Kirk Kerkorian, who owns 53.9 percent of MGM Mirage, also nearly doubled from 2006 to 2008, going from $8.9 billion two years ago to $16 billion as of Feb. 11. Kerkorian's No. 41 spot remained unchanged, as his net worth rose from $15 billion a year ago.

Forbes' 2008 list of billionaires identifies 1,125 people worldwide worth 10 figures, including 469 billionaires from the United States. Buffett, whose worth increased $10 billion to $62 billion, beat Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates, whose wealth grew $2 billion to $58 billion, had occupied the top spot for 13 years.