The World's Most Powerful People 2009


6. Carlos Slim Helú

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© Chris Hondros/Getty Images
  • World's third-richest man is dominant economic force in Mexico, personal fortune equivalent to some 2% of Mexican GDP.
  • Telecommunications monopolist: His Telemex owns 90% of Mexico's fixed telephone lines; his TelCel has 90% of wireless market.
  • Also head of group dedicated to improving Mexico's roads, energy infrastructure, water supply.
  • New focus, media: Last fall snapped up 7% stake in the New York Times Co., largest after Sulzberger owner-family.
  • "I think it's perverse to believe there shouldn't be strong companies in poor countries."

7. Rupert Murdoch

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© AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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  • "The man who owns the news" still believes in print, not afraid to use vast media holdings to further personal political views.
  • Media empire includes leading British (the Times), Australian (The Australian), American (The Wall Street Journal) newspapers, in addition to tabloids like the New York Post and The Sun (U.K.). Also movies (20th Century Fox), books (HarperCollins), television (Fox, BSkyB), online (MySpace).
  • Weak ad-marketing hurting his News Corp.: net loss of $3.4 billion in fiscal 2009, stock off March lows, but still well below 2007 levels, when he made a $5.6 billion gamble on Dow Jones. "Quality journalism isn't cheap."

8. Michael T. Duke

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© Vivan Mehra/The India Today Group/Getty Images
  • Runs world's largest retailer, more country than company: $401 billion in annual sales, 2 million employees, 8,000 stores.
  • Wal-Mart alone is China's eighth-largest trading partner.
  • Largest private-sector employer in U.S.; favorite target of unions; blamed and praised for backing Obama health care proposals, shifting economic power from manufacturers to retailers, from mom-and-pop to big box.
  • "I am competitive by nature and I want to win."

9. Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud

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© Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images
  • Absolute ruler of desert kingdom that contains the world's largest crude oil reserves, two holiest sites in Islam.
  • State-owned oil producer Saudi Aramco most profitable company on Earth, earns more than $200 billion a year, has reserves of 260 billion barrels or 25% of planet's known supply.
  • Ultimate succession unclear: 85-year-old king's official heir is 81-year-old Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
  • In 2006, established committee of senior princes to ensure smooth transition in the event both become incapacitated.

10. William Gates III

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© AP Photo/Chuck Burton
  • Richest man in the world dominated, transformed software business.
  • More than 85% of world's hundreds of millions of computer users stare at, struggle with, Microsoft products on daily basis.
  • Second act: Saving the world. Still Microsoft chairman, but now devotes day-to-day to his Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, the largest charity on Earth with $34 billion endowment. Foundation devoted to reducing hunger, improving education and fighting diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.

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