• October 3rd, 2013
  • Darren Kingman

The growth of the telecoms industry has seen a new man take the title of richest person on the planet for the 4th year in a row, taking over from previous mainstay Bill Gates. Below is the list of the 10 current richest people in the telecoms sector worldwide.

Carlos Slim1. Carlos Slim – América Móvil – $73b

Carlos Slim Helu is currently the richest person on the planet for the 4th year in a row, holding off Microsoft’s Bill Gates. The largest of Mr Slim’s assets is his holding in mobile telecoms company América Móvil, which is valued at $36.3 billion.

Since 2005 Mr Slim’s wealth has nearly tripled, rising from $25.5 billion to the $73 billion of today. This is largely down the success of América Móvil, who in the same time period have increased subscriber numbers from 66 million in South America to 251.8 million worldwide.
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MikhailFridman2. Mikhail Fridman – VimpelCom – $16.5b

Mikhail Fridman is the wealthiest of a close knit group of friends who went into business together after meeting in their college years. They formed Alfa Group who is the largest shareholder of telecoms company VimpelCom. Since 2005 Mr Fridman’s personal wealth has, similar to Carlos Slim’s, tripled – rising from $5.6 billion to $16.5 billion in 2013.

VimpelCom is the 6th largest mobile telecoms company in the world, when measured by subscriber numbers. As of the end of 2012, the company had 214 million customers, all part of the businesses various brands across the world, including Wind in Italy and Beeline in Russia.

Ananda Krishnan3. Ananda Krishnan – Maxis – $11.7b

Ananda Krishnan is the 2nd wealthiest person in Malaysia and is 3rd on our list of the richest people in the telecoms industry. His largest asset is his holding in Maxis, although he is also a major investor in Aircel, the Indian telecoms giant.

Since 2005, Mr Krishnan’s wealth has risen from $4 billion to $11.7 billion.

Masayoshi Son4. Masayoshi Son – Sprint Nextel – $9.1b

The 2nd wealthiest person in Japan and owner of 70% of Sprint Nextel, Masayoshi Son is one the most powerful people in telecoms. Although, his time in the industry hasn’t gone too smoothly as the FCC have been asked by the U.S Department of Justice and U.S Department of Homeland Security to defer the approval of his offer for a controlling stake in Sprint Nextel until checks have been completed. Since his offer went in however, the company has risen 50% in value, making his short stint in telecoms extremely successful.
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Alexei Kuzmichev5. Alexei Kuzmichev – Vimpelcom – $8.2b

Alexei Kuzmichev is another of the owners of Russian giant Alfa group, who he shares with Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven. Since the group sold TNK-BP for nearly $28 billion last year, Mr Kuzmichev’s personal wealth has risen $2.5 billion as a result.
Out of our list so far, Alexei Kuzmichev’s wealth has risen the most since 2005, climbing from a total of $1.6 billion to $8.2 billion in 2013. Much of this will be down to the success of VimpelCom but Alexei is also the head of the A1 group, which owns various companies throughout Russia, an economy that is continuing to grow.

Sunil Mittal6. Sunil Mittal and family – Bharti Airtel – $6.8b

Sunil Mittal and family are the owners of Bharti Airtel, the largest telecoms network in India where it has 183 million subscribers alone. Airtel, as it is more commonly known, also offer their services in 19 other countries, recently expanding into Africa, which has caused net profits to drop by 73% due to rising costs. This has had a personal effect on the direct wealth of the Mittal family, losing a total of $1 billion in net value since 2012.

In contrast to Alexei Kuzmichev, Sunil Mittal has had the slowest rise of wealth in the list so far, only doubling his value from $3.3 billion in 2005 to $6.8 billion in 2013.
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Vladimir Yevtushenkov

7. Vladimir Yevtushenkov – MTS – $6.7b

Entering the list at number 7 is another billionaire who has made a vast amount of money from the Russian market. Vladimir Yevtushenkov is the controlling owner of MTS, a mobile network that is the largest in Russia and surrounding countries. The company came to blows with the Uzbekistan government in recent years, after being banned from conducting business in their territory. Some of the MTS properties were also seized at the time. In retaliation, the Russian government then seized control of the Uzbekistan Presidents Daughter’s property, which quickly changed the situation.

Unlike all of the others in the Telecoms Rich List, Vladimir Yevtushenkov had a rough ride in 2009, losing $8.8 billion from his $10 billion net worth. He quickly regained his wealth again, rising to $7.5 billion a year later.

Xavier Niel8. Xavier Niel – Free Mobile – $6.6b

Xavier Niel is the newest member in the Forbes Rich List from our top 10, with wealth figures only going back as far as 2010. Xavier is the founding member of Free, a french network who originally entered the Internet Service Provider (ISP) space, offering a vastly cheaper service to all other competitors on the market. This business model has been the foundation of Xavier’s business since and seen the company time and again reinvent an industry.
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Pyotr Aven

9. Pyotr Aven – Vimpelcom – $5.4b
The last of the Alfa Group trio that have dominated our Top 10, Pyotr Aven is based more on the banking side of the company and heads up Alfa Bank Group – the company’s first business. Pyotr also benefitted greatly from the sale of TNK-BP, adding $2 billion to his personal wealth.

Denis O’Brien founded Digicel in 2001, setting out to become a leading mobile phone operator in Central America and surrounding regions. Since then, the company has become the number 1 provider in the Caribbean and Central American territories, with a total of 13 million subscribers.

Based in Jamaica, the company has a 70% market share of the countries telecoms industry. They also have over 2 million subscribers in Haiti alone. This collection of territories, including 29 others, has put Digicel and Denis O’Brien amongst the most powerful and wealthiest in the telecoms sector, leaving him 10th to complete our list.