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Ex Microsoft chief Bill Gates retakes title of world’s richest person

Bill Gates has been named the biggest financial gainer of 2013 and is once again the richest man on earth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The founder of Microsoft increased his fortune by $15.8 billion (£9.6 billion) last year to a total of $78.5 billion (£47.9 billion). In doing so he overtook Mexican investor Carlos Slim to become the wealthiest individual on the planet once more.

Gates hasn't worked full time at Microsoft for almost six years, having left in 2008 to focus on the philanthropic pursuits afforded to him through the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. However, his vast increase in wealth can be attributed to global stocks soaring last year, with shares in Microsoft rising by 40 per cent.

To put Gates' wealth into perspective, he is worth the equivalent of the entire gross domestic products of Croatia and Estonia combined – approximately 0.01 per cent of the world's total GDP. Set against a list of nations ranked by GDP, Gates would be placed 64th, just below Ecuador.

Other big gainers in the tech sector included Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who added $12.4 billion (£7.6 billion) to his personal fortune, and entrepreneur Elon Musk, whose net worth increased by 233 per cent.

According to Bloomberg's index, the world's 300 richest individuals increased their total net worth by $524 billion (£321 billion) in 2013, as income inequality in the US rose to a level unseen since 1928, just before the Great Depression.

"The rich will keep getting richer in 2014," John Catsimatidis, the billionaire founder of Red Apple Group Inc., told Bloomberg. "Interest rates will remain low, equity markets will keep rising, and the economy will grow at less than two percent."