The richest people in the world: Forbes make list

The number of Australians on the annual Forbes billionaires rich list has risen to eight with media mogul Rupert Murdoch still our richest home grown entrepreneur.

But while the number of Aussie billionaires on the list is up from the seven last year, the country's richest men - no women made the list - have slipped in their rankings.

Mr Murdoch, Australian-born but now a US citizen, has fallen to 84th place from 49th last year with Forbes estimating his fortune at $US6.5 billion ($A8.87 billion) down from $US7.8 billion ($A9.8 billion) in 2005.

Forbes said while it has not been plain sailing for Mr Murdoch, with his son Lachlan Murdoch leaving the family business, the ageing News Corp chairman and chief executive is still pushing ahead with a series of big internet deals.

"Family squabbles (and) meddling shareholders would paralyse most companies, but the spry media mogul brushes away such annoyances," Forbes said.

James Packer makes his first appearance on the list of the world's richest since taking the reins at Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd after the death of his father Kerry Packer in December last year.

Forbes rates James Packer as Australia's richest man, because of Mr Murdoch's US citizenship.

Mr Packer debuts at number 114, down from his dad's placing at 94 last year, with Forbes estimating his wealth at $US5 billion ($A6.83 billion).

Forbes says Mr Packer has already started to make his own mark at PBL with gaming projects getting underway on Macau.

"Australia's new richest man is also one of the world's most eligible bachelors (though he reportedly does has a girlfriend)," Forbes said.

Frank Lowy, head of the Westfield shopping centre empire, is the next Australian on the list at 174, down from 151 last year.

Forbes estimates the 75-year-old is worth $US3.8 ($A5.19) billion, up from $US3.6 billion ($A4.5 billion) in 2005.

Cardboard king Richard Pratt comes in at number 335 with $US2.3 billion ($A3.14 billion) as the 71-year-old vigorously defends himself and his company Visy against allegations that they participated in anti-competitive behaviour in the cardboard market.

Forbes says the one-time actor has not forgotten his theatrical roots and is still known to cap off dinner parties and company functions with full blooded renditions of "If I were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof.

Chinese-born Zhengrong Shi is the latest Australian addition to the list after his solar panel business Suntech Power delivered him an estimated fortune of $US2.2 billion ($A3.0 billion), reports the Age.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team