With turbulent markets and even more tumultuous times, just over half of the 234 women on the new Forbes list of the World’s Billionaires are worth less than a year ago. Alice Walton, however, bucked that trend. An heir to part of the Walmart fortune, she ranks as the richest woman in the world this year, up from second richest last year.
She’s worth an estimated $54.4 billion — $10 billion more than a year ago. She swaps with L’Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, who’s the second richest woman on the 2020 list. Forbes used stock prices and exchange rates from March 18, 2020 to calculate the net worths.
There are 234 women on this year’s list, and a familiar face returns as the world’s richest woman.
Among the women at the top of the list, BMW heiress Susanne Klatten took one of the biggest net worth hits amid the coronavirus-induced stock market slide. Shares of BMW fell by more than a third since January, helping to push Klatten’s net worth down to $16.8 billion, $4 billion less than a year ago. In the U.S., Las Vegas billionaire Elaine Wynn’s fortune decreased 33% from last year, as shares of Wynn Resorts fell dramatically in the past few months. But others, like Zhong Huijuan, chairwoman of Chinese drugmaker Hansoh Pharmaceutical, are worth significantly more than a year ago. In June 2019, Hansoh raised $1 billion in its Hong Kong initial public offering and shares rose more than 25% since then. Zhong is worth $14.6 billion.
This year, 234 women made the list, down from 244 last year. As a group, the women on the list are worth $927.4 billion. Despite the recent economic instability, they are collectively $29.4 billion richer than last year. An additional seven women share their fortunes this year with either their husband, child or sibling, down from nine women who shared their fortunes last year.
Nineteen women are new to the list. Of these, the richest newcomer is Julia Koch, who inherited her husband David Koch’s fortune after he died in August 2019. Another notable newcomer: MacKenzie Bezos, who gained her fortune after finalizing her divorce with the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, last summer.
Also new to the list is Neerja Sethi, who cofounded IT consulting and outsourcing firm Syntel with her husband Bharat Desai. Sethi is one of the 67 self-made women who appeared on this year’s list, down slightly from 68 self-made women last year. Joining her is self-made newcomer Qian Ying, who cofounded Shenzhen-listed Muyuan Foods with her husband Qin Yinglin. Shares of Muyuan Foods, a pig breeder and processor, nearly tripled in the past year, bringing her net worth to $1.4 billion.
Here are the top 10 richest women in the world; Net worths are as of March 18, 2020.
Net Worth: $54.4 Billion
Country: United States
Source Of Wealth: Walmart
The only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton reclaims her title this year as the richest woman in the world, after losing that spot to L’Oréal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers in 2019. Despite recent market turbulence, Walton has seen her fortune increase 23% since last year. Walton, who does not have a role at Walmart, is helping to lead a program at the Walton family foundation that will issue $300 million in bonds to help charter schools invest in and renovate facilities.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers & Family
Net Worth: $48.9 Billion
Source Of Wealth: L’oreal
The granddaughter of L’Oréal founder Eugène Schueller became France’s reigning L’Oreal heiress in 2017 after her mother Liliane Bettencourt, then the world’s richest woman, died at age 94. Bettencourt Meyers’ fortune has declined $400 million since last year’s list amid the coronavirus pandemic, as shares of the cosmetics giant dropped 12% in the first two weeks of March. In March, the company announced that its factories would start making hand sanitizer to support the needs of French and European health authorities.