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ABOUT 500 workers at Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS) have been issued with summary dismissal letters following their two-day riotous behaviour in protest against alleged poor conditions of service. And Police have apprehended seven CCS workers in relation to the riot that took place on Tuesday at the copper smelter company.Both CCS company secretary, Sun Chuanqi, and Copperbelt permanent secretary, Jennifer Musonda, confirmed the figure of the dismissed workers in separate interviews yesterday. Mr Chuanqi revealed that company property worth about US$200,000 was allegedly destroyed by the irate workers during the riot.He said management was saddened that the workers rioted before the conclusion of negotiations with union representatives.

Mr Chuanqi said the workers had been given a grace period of three days within which to exculpate themselves and show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.

He complained that work had been adversely affected by the workers’ riotous behaviour.

Mr Chuanqi warned that all workers identified as ring leaders would be dismissed from employment to discourage others from behaving in a similar manner.

By press time yesterday more than 19 alleged ring leaders had been identified while more than 66 workers collected their summary dismissal letters.

Mr Chuanqi appealed to workers to exculpate themselves within the stipulated time so that the innocent ones could be reinstated.

“We’re appealing to the workers to respond quickly to the summary dismissal letters so that those that did not take part in the riotous behaviour could be reinstated because work has been grossly affected and we need local manpower,” he said.

Mr Chuanqi said CCS belonged to Zambians and wondered why the workers destroyed what belonged to them simply because of a dispute that could have been resolved amicably.

“What we are building here also belongs to Zambians, so people must desist from destroying this investment. For those who will not come to collect their letters, we will follow them until they get them so that they can exculpate themselves,” he said.

However, Mr Chuanqi paid tribute to government for its continued support to Chinese investment in Zambia.

He also said the Chinese worker only identified as a Mr Li who was injured during the riot on Tuesday was discharged from the hospital.

And Mrs Musonda also confirmed that workers were served with summary dismissal letters when they reported for work yesterday.

A check by the Zambia Daily Mail crew yesterday at the CCS premises found several riot police officers manning the company.

Some Zambian workers were found waiting to collect their summary dismissal letters while others were reluctant to collect them, claiming that they did not take part in the riot.

Those spoken to said they were ignorant about the whole thing and that they were just forced by some of their colleagues to riot.

Copperbelt Police commanding officer, Antonneil Mutentwa, revealed that six officials of the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and their member were apprehended by police in connection with the riot.

Mr Mutentwa said the union officials and their member were apprehended around 17: 45 hours on Tuesday.
NUMAW national secretary Albert Mando condemned the action by the workers to riot and damage company property.

“We are not in support of what the workers did. We are also disappointed with what happened on Tuesday because the negotiations have not yet collapsed, so why strike or riot?” Mr Mando said.

Zambia Daily Mail

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Times of Zambia reports…

Chambishi fires 500

 ALL the 500 striking workers at Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS) were yesterday fired while seven National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) branch officials were arrested and detained on Tuesday evening.

The workers were served with letters of summary dismissal by management in the morning.

The move by management was as a result of the riotous behaviour by the workers at the company premises on Tuesday morning.

Police said those arrested were detained at Kitwe Central Police Station to help with investigations.

The workers at the Chinese-owned company had been on strike since Monday, demanding improved conditions of service.

The situation worsened on Tuesday when the workers decided to become violent and damaged property worth millions of Kwacha.

Both CCS company secretary, Sun Chuanqi and NUMAW national secretary, Albert Mando, confirmed that all the 500 workers who took part in the work stoppage had been served with letters of summary dismissal and had been given three days in which to exculpate themselves.

But Mr Mando said it was unfortunate that management had decided to serve the workers with letters of summary dismissal, saying there was no reason to continue with negotiations when its members had been served with letters of dismissal.

He, however, said his union would work hard to ensure that the seven branch union officials, who had been arrested, were released so that negotiations could continue.

“Yes, I have been told that the management at the company has also served the workers with letters of summary dismissal, but it is unfortunate management has resolved to take this stance.

“This decision by management will affect our negotiations because how do we negotiate when our members have been given letters of summary dismissal,” Mr Mando said.

And speaking in an interview at CCS, Mr Chuanqi said the management at the company had decided to serve its workers with letters of summary dismissal as a way of disciplining them for their riotous behaviour, but that they were free to exculpate themselves.

He said management was eager to listen to the concerns of the workers, but was saddened that the workers quickly resolved to become riotous and damaged property at the company.

He said the Chinese investment in Zambia was there to benefit both Zambians and Chinese and there was no reason for Zambian workers to become violent and damage property.

“As management, we do not take pleasure in dismissing our employees, but we want them to know that violence does not pay and that they have to do things according to the law. Problems arise where there are people, but things must be done correctly,” Mr Chuanqi said.

And Mr Mando confirmed the detention of the seven union branch officials and that he was trying to secure their release.

Mr Mando, who was still at the Kitwe Central Police Station by Press time, said those arrested were branch chairman, Oswell Chibale Malume, vice-branch chairman, Christopher Yumba, branch secretary, Steven Kabwe, branch vice-secretary, Christopher Nkandu, treasurer, Kafwaya Ndombwani, vice-treasurer, Chanda Mhango and a shop steward, Kachinga Silungwe.

Mr Mando said the seven were picked up on Tuesday evening and had not been formally charged although they were still being interrogated.

“Yes I can confirm that seven of NUMAW branch officials at Chambishi Copper Smelter have been arrested and detained at Kitwe central police station. They were picked up around 18:00 hours on Tuesday.

“I am actually at the police station, but I have not talked to them because they are still being interrogated and have not been formally charged. As a union, we are trying to secure their release,” Mr Mando said.

The Times team which went to CCS found the place deserted with only armed police dotted all over to keep vigil.

End of report.

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Brett Nelson from Forbes tries to ask and answer the 20 most important questions in business for us …

 1. What is your value proposition?

This is the single most important question of the bunch. If you can’t explain–in three, jargon-free sentences or less–why customers need your product, you do not have a value proposition. Without a need, there is no incentive for customers to pay. And without sales, you have no business. Period.

ALT2. Does your product address a viable market?

Entrepreneurs are passionate to a fault. Many fall in love with an idea before confirming that there’s any viable market for it, let alone one large enough to attract investment capital. If a market doesn’t yet exist–the toxic term of art here is “white space”–they assume they can create one. (Hint: There may be a reason for all that white space.)

3. What differentiates your product from competitors’?

Few companies can rely on–let alone afford–clever marketing schemes to separate themselves from the competition. Yes, Starbucks made people believe they wanted $4 caffeinated concoctions, and Louis Vuitton lulled people into shelling out $1,500 for denim handbags, but those are the exceptions that prove the rule. If you want to win in business, you need to offer something tangibly valuable that the competition doesn’t. Examples: rock-bottom prices (Wal-Mart); ingenious product design (Apple); extreme convenience (Fed Ex).

ALT4. How big is the threat of new entrants?

If you’re smart enough to spy a profitable business opportunity, you can bet competition isn’t far behind. Some barriers to entry–patented technology, a storied brand–are more fortified than others, but eventually someone will find a way to do what you do faster, cheaper and maybe even better. If not a direct competitor, then a substitute technology might take a chunk out of your hide. (Think what digital film did to Kodak.) The trick: building a loyal following before that happens.

ALT5. How much start-up capital do you need?

Any early stage investor or small business consultant will tell you that most businesses fail because they were undercapitalized. The lesson: Figure out how much you think you need, and then add plenty of extra cushion.

ALT6. How much cash do you need to survive the early years?

In case you didn’t pay attention to the previous question, take this one to heart. It doesn’t matter how much money your business might make down the road if you can’t get out of your garage. Plenty of business plans boast hockey-stick-style financial projections but run out of cash before the good times kick in. (Remember all those busted dot-com companies from the tech boom?) Three words: Mind the cash.

ALT7. How will you finance the business?

You have a few choices: Aunt Sally, credit cards (dangerous), angel investors, and if you’re really onto something, venture capital. Forget bank loans (at least until the cash is flowing in a positive direction). As for selling shares to the public, what with all the regulatory hurdles, you might find the price of that exposure a tad steep. If you can bootstrap your business, do it; raising money is difficult and distracting. If you plan on stumping for capital, consider how much equity and control you’re willing to give up. (The more you need the money, the stiffer the terms will get, so ask for it sooner than later.) Finally, always remember to match the timing of cash inflows from your assets and the outflows to cover liabilities. A mismatch can sting.

ALT8. What are your strengths?

Google writes powerful search algorithms; Steinway works wonders with wood; Cisco sniffs out promising new technologies and buys them. Figure out what you’re good at and stick to it. An obvious notion, perhaps, but plenty of zealous entrepreneurs lose their way–especially when the world seems so full of possibilities.

ALT9. What are your weaknesses?

You may know how to design a widget, but not know a thing about running an efficient manufacturing plant. Apple designs and markets its nifty iPods and iPhones, but lets someone else slap them together. Countless Webpreneurs farm out the design of their sites and back-office payment systems. Wasting resources just to be mediocre is suicide. Stick to core competencies and find trusted partners to handle the rest.

ALT10. How much power do your suppliers have?

Convincing customers to buy your products is tough enough without suppliers giving you a hard time. Basic rule of thumb: The fewer the number of suppliers, the more sway they have. Take the steel industry, which relies on a handful of companies for its iron feedstock. If two of those big guys should get together–as BHP Billton and Rio Tinto have been discussing–they would have significant pricing power, potentially crimping steel producers’ margins. On the flipside, beware getting hooked on low-cost providers who don’t keep an eye on quality. (“Lead-laced” Barbie, anyone?)

11. How much power do your buyers have?

Take a lesson from Delphi, the giant auto parts supplier stuck in Chapter 11 despite its $26 billion in annual sales: It’s no fun to be in a business where a few big customers can demand price cuts with each passing year. Meanwhile, movie theaters–even while besieged by video-on-demand and other services–still manage to push higher prices on the disaggregated masses. The cost of a seat at a Regal Entertainment Group theater in lower Manhattan is now $12–up 20% in less than three years.

ALT12. How should you sell your product?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to wooing customers. For two decades, Dell Computer bypassed retailers and sold directly to customers, with limited tech support. General Motors and Coca Cola rely on distributors to move their cars and cans. Clothing companies like Ralph Lauren work both internal and external channels. And thanks to daily, intensive sales training, privately held Lazy Days moves some $800 million worth of RVs out of one sprawling location near Tampa, Fla. Whatever sales method you choose, make sure it aligns with your overall business strategy.

ALT13. How should you market your product?

Young companies have to get the word out, but they also can go broke doing it. A decade ago, America Online spent so much money flooding the planet with free trial software that it tried to mask the bleeding by capitalizing those expenses on its balance sheet. (Regulators later nixed that accounting treatment, wiping out millions in accounting profits.) What percentage of sales should go toward marketing? As with sales, there is no one rule of thumb. For more, check out Six Marketing Strategies Worth Paying For.

ALT14. Does the business scale?

Bill Gates plowed piles of money into developing the first copy of Microsoft Office. The beauty: Each additional copy of that software program costs next to nothing to produce. That’s called scale–and it’s the difference between modest wealth and obscene riches. What models don’t scale? Think service businesses, where the need for people grows along with revenues.

ALT15. What are your financial projections?

You can’t lead if you don’t have a destination. Two critical milestones: 1) the point where more cash is coming into the business than going out in a given period, and 2) the point at which you finally recuperate your cumulative initial investment (including an adjustment for the time value of money). Financial projections should be reasonable. Paint too rosy a picture and seasoned investors will run; more to the point, you might run out of cash.

ALT16. What price will consumers pay?

Get this answer wrong and you could leave bags of money on the table–or worse, send customers running into the arms of the competition. When Apple sliced the price of its iPhone by a third after only two months on the market, even loyal customers screamed, forcing chief Steve Jobs to apologize and offer a partial rebate. Consultants get paid handsomely to help companies arrive at the right price. For more affordable advice, check out “The Six-Step Guide To Pricing Your Product.” Wannabe consultants should read “How To Price Your Consulting Services.”

ALT17. How do you protect your intellectual property?

Imagine slaving for years on a new cellphone battery that lasts more than two days, only to watch it reverse-engineered and patented by someone else. Before you ask anyone to crank out a few prototypes, file for a provisional patent. It protects your idea for a year while you work out the kinks. For more on intellectual-property protection, check out Protect Your Prototype and The Patented Path To Profits.

ALT18. How do you keep the help happy?

What’s Google worth without its super-geeks? Goldman Sachs without its number crunchers (and their golden Rolodexes)? The local bar without old Jim manning the tap? Not much, which is why attracting and retaining talent is critical to so many businesses. For starters, that means crafting the right benefits package. Starbucks sets a fairly high standard: Health benefits are available to any Starbucks employee who works at least 20 hours a week and has been with the company for more than 90 days.

ALT19. How committed are you to making this happen?

About a year ago, Chuck Prince, recently resigned chief executive of Citigroup, addressed a group at New York University’s Stern School of Business. An audience member asked what life looked like at the helm of such a colossal firm. Prince responded that, save for a few exceptions, every evening for the next five months was already accounted for. Fair warning: If you want to run the show, get ready to give everything–and then some.

ALT20. What is your end game?

Running a business with an eye toward flipping it to a strategic buyer is a lot different than digging in for the long haul. (Will YouTube ever turn a profit? Who knows, but that’s Google’s problem now; the same goes for MySpace and News Corp.) Not sure whether you want to build the next great empire or just make a decent buck? Ask yourself the following eight questions.

NB:Some aspects of this article have been edited to fit our format …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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By LIZ KEENAN/SYDNEY

“Today Australia has looked to the future,” said the country’s newly elected Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, claiming victory for his Labor Party for the first time since 1996.

Poll after opinion poll had predicted a Labor triumph in national elections, but few had forecast its scale. Labor captured at least 22 seats from the ruling Liberal-National coalition — including, it appears, the northwestern Sydney seat held for the past 33 years by Prime Minister John Howard.

With 77% of votes counted in Sydney’s Bennelong district, Howard trailed by several hundred votes. In an emotional speech Nov. 24 Howard took full responsibility for the conservatives’ defeat. Then one of Australia’s most successful leaders — and one of President George W. Bush’s staunchest western allies — walked off the stage and into retirement.

A year ago, few even in his own party believed Rudd, a 50-year-old former diplomat and bureaucrat who has been in Parliament for only nine years, had a hope of overturning the P.M. Indeed, Howard had seen off four Labor opponents in a row. A prissy, bookish multimillionaire, Rudd was far from the stereotypical Aussie bloke.

But with the help of focus groups, public-relations advisers and expressions like “mate” and “fair dinkum,” he made himself over as a cooler, younger version of 68-year-old Howard: not a revolutionary, just a renovator. His slick, buzzword-driven campaign — “New leadership,” “fresh ideas,” “plans,” “the future” — took Labor’s popularity rating into the high 50s, and kept it there.

Pundits have spent much of the past year debating what the trend to Labor said about Australia.

In a country where voting is compulsory, elections turn on a dozen or so marginal seats, where small shifts in voter sentiment can make or break governments.

There was reason to think swinging voters would applaud Howard: Australia is in its 16th successive year of economic growth, and unemployment and interest rates are the lowest since the ’70s.

“This is the first defeat of a government in decades where there was no evident anger or public rage,” said Liberal Senator Michael Baume. Instead there was ennui.

Many voters were tired of Howard, and unexcited by Treasurer (now Opposition leader) Peter Costello, 50, who was due to take over from Howard in 2009.

There were also concerns about small interest-rate rises, new industrial relations laws, health care and education, and — in a period of drought — water and climate change.

Australian elections have become increasingly presidential, and Labor cast this one as a two-man race: Kevin vs John, youth vs age, the future vs the past. A vote for Rudd was a vote for someone new. But not too different. Cartoonists drew Rudd as a mini-Howard.

A satirical video on YouTube cast the Chinese-speaking Labor leader as Chairman Mao, with subtitles reading: “Rudd unnerve decrepit Howard with clever strategy of ‘similar difference.'” Rather than attacking Howard’s strengths, Rudd appropriated them. “I am not a socialist,” Rudd insisted. “I am an economic conservative.”

On issue after issue, from federal intervention in dysfunctional Aboriginal communities, to national security, to the expansion of coal and uranium mining, Rudd adopted the government’s line. The new P.M. is likely to go Howard’s way on foreign policy, too.

What he described as “fundamental differences” with Howard — his vows to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and pull troops from Iraq — are largely symbolic. Though Australia is outside the Kyoto regime, the country has met its emissions targets. And on the question of a successor treaty to Kyoto, Rudd in mid-campaign abruptly took the Howard position: a Labor government would not ratify Kyoto II unless it required China and India to limit their emissions.

On Iraq, Rudd has moderated Labor’s earlier “pull-out-now” policy. He says he will bring home the 1,400 Australian troops in Iraq and the Gulf gradually, in a “negotiated, staged withdrawal.” He is prepared to send more troops to Afghanistan. Australia under Labor will remain a “rock solid” friend of the U.S., Rudd has said, but reserve the right to act “independently.”

Rudd, who spent eight years as a diplomat in Beijing, has criticized China’s human-rights record but appears more sympathetic to the People’s Republic than Howard. Rudd rejected the Howard government support of a potential alliance between the U.S., Australia, Japan and India, saying China would feel encircled.

As exultant Labor voters — “Eleven and a half years is just too long,” many said of Howard’s long run — cheered Rudd’s victory speech, some observers wondered whether he’ll maintain his Howard-like demeanor or whether, as left-wing commentator Robert Manne said during the campaign, “When he gets into government, then we’ll begin to see the differences again.” Australians who voted Labor only when Rudd moved toward the center may be hoping those differences are not too startling.

Source: Time Magazine 

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ALTThere was a one hour interview on CNBC with Warren Buffett, the second richest man in America who has donated $31 billion to charity. Here are some very interesting aspects of his life:

1. He bought his first share at age 11 and he now regrets that he started too late!

2. He bought a small farm at age 14 with savings from delivering newspapers.

3. He still lives in the same small 3-bedroom house in mid-town Omaha , that he bought after he got married 50 years ago. He says that he has everything he needs in that house. His house does not have a wall or a fence.

4. He drives his own car everywhere and does not have a driver or security people around him.

5. He never travels by private jet, although he owns the world’s largest private jet company.

6. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns 63 companies. He writes only one letter each year to the CEOs of these companies, giving them goals for the year. He never holds meetings or calls them on a regular basis. He has given his CEO’s only two rules. Rule number 1: do not lose any of your share holder’s money. Rule number 2: Do not forget rule number 1.

7. He does not socialize with the high society crowd. His past time after he gets home is to make himself some pop corn and watch Television.

8. Bill Gates, America’s richest man met him for the first time only 5 years ago. Bill Gates did not think he had anything in common with Warren Buffett. So he had scheduled his meeting only for half hour. But when Gates met him, the meeting lasted for ten hours and Bill Gates became a devotee of Warren Buffett.

9. Warren Buffett does not carry a cell phone, nor has a computer on his desk.

His advice to young people: “Stay away from credit cards and invest in yourself and Remember:

A. Money doesn’t create man; it is the man who created money.

B. Live your life as simple as you are.

C. Don’t do what others say, just listen to them, but do what you feel good.

D. Don’t go for brand name; just wear those things in which u feel comfortable.

E. Don’t waste your money on unnecessary things; just spend on those who really are in need.

F. After all it’s your life so why give chance to others to rule your life.”

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Somehow it gets ingrained in our African minds that a culture of suffering, poverty and an unassuming nature is synonymous with life. For us for the most part, we tend to shun away from success, we tend to consider it a pariah. 

As long as we are getting along just fine, as long as life is not ducking a bad blow to us, it tends to be hallelujah all the way. It looks like we are fine with a life of a paycheck to another paycheck … an employee and not an employer, a worker not an owner; just listen to our politicians and you will get the grip. 

In fact, African nations are ranked at the bottom when it comes to prosperity by the World Economic Forum as revealed in Zambia’s Global Competitiveness Stinks, World Economic Forum Reveals …  not due to lack of resources and expertise, no, no, no. 

It is due to a lackluster approach to the basics and the tenants of human aspirations. We get into these group thinks that tell us that aspiration and ambition are wrong; and we buy into it. This is one of the major fallacies that have kept us behind for centuries. 

Does it surprise you that while Caucasoids, Australoids and Mongoloids were still living in curves, Negroids were busy building pyramids, inventing trigonometry, moving from Stone Age to the Iron Age, discovering astronomy and creating sundials, calendars, etc? 

But just what went wrong is the billion dollar question. Part of the answer lies in analyzing our culture and as long as we keep the same aspects of our cultural tenants, we will forever be at the receiving end in human civilization. 

What we need is a cultural revolution, one that tells our kids its okay to be a millionaire, its okay to be filthy rich as long as you are level-headed about it. I don’t know about you, but for me money is one thing I don’t like to worry about … there is too much of it around the world for me to be an outsider. 

We have been analyzing our blog stats and one area with the greatest number of hits per day has to deal with people wanting to read more about wealthy people around the world. This means that more people really want to be wealthy but just want to keep a low profile about it …

We will soon start exploring ways in which any person that visits our classy-daddy-3.gifsite can learn to start generating wealth at grand scales. We will be looking at ways to become rich using your current resources, starting businesses, networking and how that education is the easiest way to increasing one’s net worth. 

It is because of the above that we like to publish stories about some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. And that’s this week’s memo from us here at the Zambian Chronicle … thanks a trillion.

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

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Copyrights © 2007 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc.  

   

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‘I Wanted the Biggest’

Venture capitalist Tom Perkins is making the media rounds these days to promote his new autobiography, “Valley Boy.”

Tom PerkinsOn 60 Minutes last night (see video clips here), Mr. Perkins showed off his 289-foot sailboat, the Maltese Falcon, which is the largest privately-owned sailboat in the world. While the display may be repulsive to some, I found Mr. Perkins’ honesty about his showy ways refreshing.

Lesley Stahl, for instance, asked Mr. Perkins why he needed to have the biggest boat.

“I could give you some technical reasons why it really has got to be big to work right,” he said. “But I just wanted the biggest boat.” He added: “Do I have an ego? Yes. Is it big? Yes.”

Mr. Perkins was a bit more coy about the boat’s actual cost. He says the that the rule of thumb with big yachts is $1 million per meter. But Ms. Stahl said she’d heard the boat cost between $150 million and $300 million. Mr. Perkins says it didn’t cost $300 million, but he declined to give a number, beyond saying “I’m embarrased about how much it cost. There’s the homeless and charity and a lot of things you can do with that money that would improve the world.”

At one point, Mr. Perkins strings nautical flags up the masts that spell out the following: “Rarely does one have the privilege of witnessing vulgar ostentation displayed on such a scale.”

Ms. Stahl went on to list just a few of Mr. Perkins’ playthings: the Bentley, the $450,000 Porsche, the Aston Martin, the second yacht, the 900-year-old moated estate in England. Ms. Stahl asserted that with all these baubles, Mr. Perkins likes to show off.

“Guilty as charged,” he said. He went on to say that his need for conspicuous consumption probably goes back to his mother, who was always wishing for things his poor family couldn’t buy. “The fact that we didn’t have any money was very evident in my life,” he said. “She talked about it all the time. That rubbed off on me.”

Granted, blaming your $150 million sailboat on your mom may be a stretch. But Mr. Perkins should get some credit for saying what so many rich people think but won’t say: I want the biggest, and I want the best. I worked hard to earn my fortune and I deserve to do what I want with it — even if it doesn’t help the world.

In an age in which the wealthy hide their yachts, mansions and jets behind populist rhetoric (they’re just normal, humble guys — or they bought the boat/mansion/jet “for my family”), Mr. Perkins tells it like it is. He’s rich, he’s vulgar and he’s proud.

October 19, 2007, 11:47 am

Invasion of the Yacht-Spotters

You’ve heard of train-spotters and maybe even plane-spotters. Now comes a new innovation in the world of wealth voyeurism: yacht-spotters.

Yacht-spotters are boat-obsessed individuals around the world who hang around docks, marinas, shipyards and ports snapping photos of megayachts and charting their migratory patterns. Some are in the yacht business; others live by the water or own boats themselves. But all share what they call a “passion” for rich people’s boats.

Yacht-spottersTheir numbers are rising, lifted by a tide of new Web forums and the spawning of more and more big yachts around the world. The number of private boats under contract that are longer than 120 feet has more than doubled over the last four years — it’s now 370, according to data about to be released by Showboats International.

My print column today looks at the rise in yacht-spotting sites, and how they’ve become something of an annoyance to rich, private boaters. As Jonathan Beckett of Nigel Burgess told me: “It’s a bit disturbing that people can now track exactly where a certain megayacht is located or where she’s anchored. I can see how it might be useful to some people. But I don’t think it’s very healthy.”

Still, most of the sites are innocent enough. And these sites make for entertaining Web browsing, especially for those who like to peek into the lives of the wealthy.

The three top sites are Yachtspotter, the Megayachts forum, and Superyacht Times.

Some of my favorite threads on those sites show the less-visible sides of the boating world. Take this thread on Yachtspotters, which shows high-priced yachts in various wrecks, scrapes and groundings.

Other threads track boat movements. Want to see where Larry Ellison’s 454-foot ship, Rising Sun, has been over the summer? Click here. And here’s a link to the recent movements of Octopus, Paul Allen’s 414-foot vessel. (How such a huge boat managed to dock in Yap, Micronesia is beyond me.)

The sites also have endless shots of the boats at anchor, docked at marinas, lit up at night, and squeezed between other yachts at Cannes. The Megayachts forum has some especially great photos on this thread. Another of my favorite threads is about strange or bad-looking yachts. And for those into scenery, here’s a great thread on Yachtspotter with pictures from the Monaco boat show.

Some of the wealthy may be a bit bothered by all the attention their water toys attract. But if a billionaire builds a 414-foot boat, he or she can expect (if not want) a little attention. And after all, isn’t one of the most-important responsibilities of great wealth to provide fantasy for the general public?

August 24, 2007, 11:03 am

The Rich and the Environment

At Davos earlier this year, Sergey Brin, the Google guy and self-described environmentalist, defended his use of a Boeing 767 private jet by saying he purchased carbon offsets. Carbon offsets, or credits, are donations to help mitigate the impact on the environment from carbon emissions.

A yachtBut even Mr. Brin admitted he didn’t know whether carbon offsets really helped.

“I’m not sure,” he told reporters. “I think it does something. But I think I would pursue something more specialized and personal” rather than relying uniquely on offsets, which, are “the most expedient thing I could do.”

The green movement has become the latest thorn in the side of the rich. They want their luxuries — their fleets of private jets (10,000 in the U.S. and counting), mega-yachts, cars, and giant estates. But they don’t want to be pilloried by the press as pollution hogs. Or, as a recent humor piece in the New Yorker said of a fictional lottery winner: “I’ve been thinking a lot about the environment now that I own so much of it.”

So the rich are coming with new ways to shrink their environmental footprints, without giving up their designer shoes.

My column today looks at three luxuries — yachts, private jets and mansions — that the rich are trying to make more environmentally acceptable.

For jets, they’re buying carbon offsets. For yachts, they’re installing ocean-monitoring equipment (presumably for determining how much the oceans are warming due to yacht emissions). And for homes, they’re building 7,500-foot EcoManors.

It’s easy to ridicule the moves as guilt payments. And they certainly don’t represent much of a sacrifice: A carbon offset for a $20,000 private jet charter will only cost you about $70 — which, by the way, is tax-deductible. If the rich really were truly dedicated to the environment, they would drive smaller cars, build smaller houses and trade their Feadships in for kayaks.

But c’mon — that’s not going to happen.

As Eric Carlson of the Carbon Fund told me: “These people aren’t required to do anything. We should praise those who make an effort.” Plus, as he and others say, the rich could take the lead in helping to fund alternative-energy markets, and thus drive down prices so they can become more available to the rest of us.

What do you think? Are the new green-friendly rich pioneers, or hypocrites?

July 26, 2007, 1:20 pm

Ellison’s New Yacht

Larry Ellison already owns the second-largest private yacht in the world — his 454-foot Rising Sun.

Rising SunNow, he’s building another one.

According to the latest issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine, Mr. Ellison has commissioned a new yacht to be built in Europe. The mag doesn’t offer many details. Yet yacht-industry experts tell me that the new Ellison boat is slated to be about 80 meters long and is being built by Feadship. It’s scheduled for delivery sometime after 2010.

Why, you might ask, does Larry Ellison need another yacht?

Because Rising Sun is too big.

As Wealth Report readers might remember, Mr. Ellison has been complaining for years that the boat he built specifically to be the longest in the world — or at least to be longer than Paul Allen’s — turned out to be rather impractical. He can’t dock at most of the world’s marinas, since his boat exceeds size limits. When he pulls into shore, he has to tie up with oil takers and container ships at industrial ports. (Not very posh.) Or he has to anchor offshore and take tenders to the dock.

Larry’s other complaint, according to friends, is the “lack of intimate spaces” on the boat. With its Zen-like, modern design, the boat feels cold and imposing both inside and out. “It’s like walking in an empty mall,” says one friend who’s been on the ship.

So Ellison sold a share in the boat to friend and fellow billionaire David Geffen. It’s unclear whether his new boat means he’ll hang on to Rising Sun, sell it to Geffen or another buyer, or keep his share.

For now, however, it looks one of America’s flashiest billionaires may actually be downsizing.

July 12, 2007, 4:00 pm

Over the Top, Under the Sea

The superrich like to go places that mere millionaires can’t. Like space. Or the bottom of the sea — in a private luxury submarine.

According to this article in the International Herald-Tribune by my former Journal colleague A. Craig Copetas, more and more of today’s wealthy are buying large, personal subs to explore the ocean floor.

Copetas writes: “Journeying to see what’s on the bottom aboard a personal submersible is a wretched excess guaranteed to trump the average mogul’s stable of vintage Bugattis or a $38 million round-trip ticket to the International Space Station aboard a Russian rocket.”

The article quotes sub builders and experts saying there are now about 100 luxury subs cruising the seas. A 10-passenger sub will run you about $10 million, while a model with five staterooms, five bathrooms and two kitchens will run about $25 million.

But buyer beware: Governments get defensive when they detect unidentified subs in their waters — especially those with sonar scanners that can be confused with torpedo tubes.

Yacht experts tell me that Paul Allen’s boat, Octopus, has a personal submarine that holds 10 people. Yet they add that it took months to get the craft working properly, since it was stowed in a special James Bond-like hold in the yacht hull. The sub is painted bright yellow — Mr. Allen is a Beatles fan.

Yacht folks also tell me that Russian oil magnate Roman Abromovich has a two-person “run-around sub.” It’s stored on his boat Pelorus. (Update: A spokesman for Mr. Abramovich says the oil tycoon doesn’t own any subs.)

Still, as one yacht broker put it: “You have to be a little odd to want one of these.”

July 2, 2007, 11:59 am

Are the Rich Overborrowing?

When it comes to bad loans, most of the attention these days is on the subprime market: Too many banks made too many loans to people who didn’t have the incomes to support their payments.

A handshake with moneyNow that the subprime market is drying up, banks are turning to the wealthy to keep up the revenue stream. The rich are rich, they figure — they will always be able to pay the loans back and have plenty of assets to back them up.

Yet every loan has risk. And as banks get more aggressive in writing loans to the wealthy, they are increasingly underestimating the amount of leverage that the rich have taken on in recent years.

I’ve written about these risks before. But an article in the New York Times by Christine Haughney shows lending to the rich has reached new extremes. According to the article — its headline is “The $3.6 Million Mortgage” — the number of multi-million-dollar mortgages in New York has exploded, with some banks going beyond their lending guidelines.

Keith Kantrowitz, the president of Power Express Mortgage Bankers, told the Times that the average mortgage requested by his borrowers in Manhattan has nearly tripled in the last two years to about $4 million. He’s even arranging interest-only mortgages for four borrowers in Manhattan, each for $30 million or more.

The article says the rich borrowers are using the money for real-estate investments, and that most of them are “overqualified.” Yet the article fails to emphasize the risks inherent in such loans. The New York property market could plunge, leaving the borrowers with big losses. All you have to do is look at the Miami condo market to see what happens to wealthy flippers and speculators when property prices tumble.

And the rich aren’t just leveraging houses. Financing for yachts and jets has also soared. Yacht brokers tell me that borrowers today can finance 60% of the value of their yachts — with some stretching even higher. That’s a big risk for a relativelty illiquid market (pardon the pun) with a history of price swings. The same holds true for art and jets, which have become equally large sources of lending.

I’m not saying high-end lending is poised for a meltdown. But anyone who thinks loans to the rich are no-risk propositions should remember the late 1980s.

June 4, 2007, 3:42 pm

An Even Bigger Biggest Yacht

I was browsing through my latest issue of Yachts magazine — I am what’s known as an “aspirational reader,” since my boating experience consists of renting a kayak once a summer — when I noticed a stunning advertisement.

BlueprintsThe ad was for a yacht-brokerage firm called 4yacht.com. They were listing a very big yacht named Everest. I don’t mean big as in 300 or 400-feet big. I mean big as in 656-feet big. That’s right, 656 feet — which is pretty much a private cruise ship, without all the people or the buffet rooms to clutter things up. Here’s another listing for the boat on Yacht World:

The 200-Meter “EVEREST” can have accommodations for 36 passengers and guests consisting of 17 apartments and an Owners private penthouse suite on the top deck. Every suite will have private terraces. In addition the yacht will have an outside swimming pool with a cinema arrangement, large gymnasium, sauna, steam rooms, indoor cinema, and a beach club with side folding platforms port and starboard, as well as a large drive-in docking facility at the aft end for boats and a small submarine. Price on request. Serious Inquiries Only!!!

Since I recently wrote about the world’s largest yacht under construction, the Eclipse, I was a bit confused. Was Everest eclipsing Eclipse? And if Everest represented the highest peak in yachting, what are they going to call the next biggest boat? Bigger than Everest?

For help, I called Diane Byrne, the executive editor of Power and Motoryacht magazine. Diane writes the magazine’s annual list of world’s largest yachts and follows this stuff obsessively.

She says Everest isn’t really a boat. It’s a proposal — a set of preliminary blueprints that brokers and designers try to pitch to potential buyers. Brokers like proposals because they help potential buyers have something more concrete to look at when shopping around. And buyers like them because they help reduce construction time by a year or two, since some of the basic design work and logistics have already been done.

“The upper end of the yacht market has exploded, so there’s been a movement by designers and builders to create proposals,” Diane said.

Of course, any buyer of Everest would have some big challenges to overcome. For one thing, the boat is to big to dock in any standard marina. “They would have to dock in a commercial, cruise-ship terminal, and I’m not sure cruise terminals would even let them,” Diane says. “And that’s not as fun, since there’s an element of showing off” with boats this size.

And of course, there’s the price tag. The “whisper” price for Everest is 350 million euros. That’s right, euros.

May 25, 2007, 12:20 pm

The Yacht Shortage

First we heard about the Gulfstream shortage. Then the Ferrari shortage and the Rothko shortage.

A yachtNow, in the latest sign of the skewed economics of today’s wealth boom, we learn about the yacht shortage. According to yacht builders in the U.S. and Europe, the waiting lists for megayachts are now stretching to three years or more. The problem: too many yacht buyers, not enough yacht-making capacity. Yacht makers are expanding as fast as they can to meet demand. But finding qualified labor is difficult — there are only so many plumbers who can install antique French faucets for nautical use. And other yards are leery of expanding too rapidly, lest the boom turn into a bust.

Yet the imbalance between supply and demand in the yachting world has also created an interesting arbitrage opportunity. Meet the yacht flippers — people who commission yachts and then sell the half-finished or almost-finished boats to other buyers for multi-million-dollar premiums. It’s like real-estate flipping, but with $35 million boats. And it’s become a highly profitable business.

My print column today offers a peek into the deals of three of today’s biggest yacht flippers — Terry Taylor, Rick Hendrick and Felix Sabates, the king of flippers. Mr. Taylor, for instance, has purchased five yachts since 2001 but is currently boatless, since he’s sold them all. Mr. Sabates has flipped more than 18 boats over the past 15 years or so, but at least for now his flipping days are over — he was buying so many boats from Trinity Yachts that he decided to become a partner.

Just like real estate, yacht flipping carries risks. If the wealth boom fades and the yacht market tanks, the flippers could be left with pricey boats they’ll have to own. But they’re rich enough that they can afford it. (Who knows, they might even enjoy owning a boat!) And for now, flippers seem to be having the most fun in the boating world.

“Flipping boats,” says Mr. Sabates, “is a better business than building them!”

May 21, 2007, 2:37 pm

How the Rich Spend Their Summer

While the broader retail and consumer sector may be slowing, spending by the rich continues to astound.

A new survey of 198 people worth $10 million or more, conducted by Prince & Associates for Elite Traveler magazine, shows that the wealthy will spend 56% more this summer than in 2005.

Yacht charters top the list, with $384,000 in planned spending, which sounds about right, given that big yachts now charter for $200,000 to $250,000 a week. (See average planned spending of Prince respondents in 10 categories below.)

Ranking second was redecorating. Granted, redecorating may not seem like a popular summer pasttime for the rich. But since they’re usually traveling for the season, it’s an optimal time to let in the contractors and install that new lap pool or home theater.

Another high-ranking spending category: “experiential excursions.” For those unfamiliar with this new breed of primal-luxury vacation, they usually involve paying some high-priced guide to take you and your family running with springbok in Botsawana, trekking with penguins in Chile or learning wine-making in New Zealand.

Of all the categories, however, the one that almost all respondents planned to spend money on was charity. Fully 98% of them planned to donate to charity this summer, averaging $82,000. All those summer fundraisers may also explain why the rich plan to spend $56,000 on entertaining, and $24,000 for wine for entertainment.

Summer Activity Average Planned Spending
Yacht rentals $384,000
Redecorating $129,000
Villa rentals $106,000
Experiential excursions $103,000
Jewelry/watches $94,000
Luxury cruises $92,000
Charitable giving $82,000
Vacation-home rentals $82,000
Out-of-home spa services $61,000
Summer entertaining $56,000

May 8, 2007, 11:40 am

The Ferrari Shortage

Buying a Ferrari is one of the joys of being rich.

It’s one of those “you-know-you’ve-made-it-when” rites of passage, along with the house in the Hamptons (or Aspen or Palm Beach) and the American Express black card.

FerrarisBut today there are so many newly minted multi-millionaires and billionaires around the world that there simply aren’t enough Ferarris to go around. An article in today’s Journal by Gabriel Kahn explains that the waiting list for a new Ferrari has grown from the standard 12 months to 24 months or more in Hong Kong, the U.S., Australia and England.

The reason: huge demand for Ferraris among the new rich in Russia, the Middle East and Asia.

Ferrari’s chairman, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, swore in 1990 that Ferrari would never make more than 5,000 cars per year. Now they’re making 5,700 and still can’t keep up with demand: “We started to consider 18 months [to wait] ideal, but now we can’t even keep up with that.”

To its credit, Ferrari isn’t doubling its production to keep up with the demand (thus avoiding the mass-luxury trap that has beset Jaguar, Mercedes and others).

But the result is a new V-VIP economy, where mere millionaires are bumped down the Ferrari waiting list by Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs who have been longtime customers and are buying two or three cars at a time. (Ferrari denies that it fiddles with the list, but let’s get real — the have-mores get better treatment than the haves in all luxury businesses.)

And Ferraris aren’t the only luxury product with a waiting list. Try commissioning a new 250-foot yacht these days. You’ll find yourself on a waiting list of at least a year, sometimes two. Want to buy one of Gulfstream’s new top-of-the-line G550s? Prepare to wait at least a year.

The millionaire glut is even appearing in the investment world. There are so many rich investors trying to get into the top hedge funds and private-equity funds these days that many are getting turned down. Private banks say one of the biggest problems for their clients today is “access” — finding top managers who are willing to take money from their rich clients.

What to make of this new luxury logjam? For the wealthy, it’s a constant headache. After all, they worked hard to make their fortunes and now they want the rewards. Spending $125 million for a boat and then being told to “get in line” has got to be humiliating for today’s rich.

Yet the rich have to realize that the economic forces that are making them rich — liquidity, globalization, technology — are making lots of other people rich too. And as more and more people get rich, they can’t all have the same luxury goods. Or if they can, they’re no longer luxury goods.

So the wealthy need to adjust their sense of privilege. They should accept that they may be rich, but they’re no longer that special. There are plenty of people just like them — and plenty more who are even richer. If today’s wealthy really want a sports car that they can buy today and drive tomorrow, they might have to settle for a Porsche.

April 9, 2007, 11:58 am

Experience Versus Ownership

For the rich, ownership used to be everything.

Ten years ago, no self-respecting multi-millionaire or billionaire would have been caught dead in a rented car, rented house or rented boat. What was the point of being rich if you couldn’t own your own status symbols?

A YachtPlus yachtNow, a sea change is sweeping through the luxury world in the form of fractional ownership. It started with jets, then moved to plush vacation homes (rented by destination clubs) and automobiles available from exotic-car clubs.

The next wave in fractional ownership? Yachts. Evan Roth, of BBR Partners, the New York multi-family office, sent me this article by Shelley Emling in the International Herald Tribune about YachtPlus. The U.K.-based company is building a fleet of 10 yachts to be sold off in fractional pieces. Each of the 132-foot long boats will be divided into eight shares sold for $2 million each. (For those about to get out their calculators, that works out to $121,212.12 a foot.)

In the article, Han Verstraete, chief executive of YachtPlus, says that the rich no longer prize ownership. They prize experiences.

“My typical customer will have three real-estate assets and perhaps also do some sharing of jets,” he says. “The yacht experience is the experience these people are seeking next.”

The article also quotes James Lawson, senior research director at Ledbury Research, saying that “many wealthy people are looking for driving lessons organized by Ferrari, cooking lessons by celebrity chefs, and exclusive travel and holiday experiences. Experience is becoming more important than ownership.”

This is the common sales pitch from all fractional companies. Why own when you can co-own? Why deal with the hassles of finding a plumber for your house in Cabo, repairing the transmission on the Ferrari, and hiring your own pilots when you can let someone else do it and still enjoy the ride?

It’s a reasonable argument — up to a point. Today’s wealthy do indeed value experiences as much as things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to share the cost of their things. Fractional ownership is likely to keep growing as the ranks of wealthy and affluent explode. But the industry will have to overcome three major hurdles:

1. The Christmas-Vacation Effect. Tanner & Haley, the first destination club, went bankrupt in part because all of its members wanted to be in the same vacation spots at the same times. So the company had to rent homes to accommodate the unexpected demand. Fractional ownership is based on the premise that all owners will want to use the asset at different times. But, inevitably, they all want to use their toys during peak holiday times — Christmas and New Year, Easter break, and August. When all eight owners of the YachtPlus yacht want to use the boat for the first two weeks in August, what happens? (Even rigorous scheduling and point systems leave people disappointed.)

2. The Wealthy Don’t Like to Share. These are people who have worked hard for their fortunes and are used to getting top treatment. They like things their way. Fractional yacht-ownership has run into trouble in the past because owners typically want their own kind of boat, crew service and trip itineraries. Can you imagine eight multi-millionaires trying to agree on flatware? (Another potential sticking point is YachtPlus’s yachts — while innovative, they look a bit like floating VW Beetles.)

3. Economics. In the end, fractional ownership is only as strong as the partners. What if you buy a boat with eight people and two end up bankrupt? What if the company selling the shares suddenly finds itself in dire straits (a la Tanner & Haley)? While fractional ownership may spread the costs of ownership, it also expands the pool of risks.

And as renting and chartering becomes increasingly popular for top cars, yachts, planes and mansions, co-owning starts to look less attractive. Maybe I’m wrong. But fractional ownership looks to me like it has the potential to combine the worst of both worlds — the price of ownership combined with the personal costs of sharing.

Fractional companies, I welcome your thoughts.

March 6, 2007, 12:16 pm

Yacht Parking

All those wealthy boaters buying megayachts are suddenly in need of yacht parking spots. Hence the sudden rise of the megayacht marina.

YachtsAccording to an Associated Press article by David McFadden, so-called megamarinas in the Caribbean are proliferating.

Leading the pack is Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas, which is getting a $200 million facelift to handle bigger boats. The marina is big enough to boast a dock for Larry Ellison’s 452-foot Rising Sun. And in Grenada, workers have broken ground on a $562 million resort and marina with spaces for boats longer than 250 feet.

Megayacht marinas are also becoming big business beyond the Caribbean. Rhode Island-based O’Neill Properties is building a marina called the Newport Club, on Aquidneck Island. It will have 1,500 marina slips and space for yachts as large as Rising Sun.

The Mediterranean is still king of the megayacht marinas, with more than 10 times as many large-boat berths as the Caribbean. Yet the Associated Press article quotes Michael J. Howorth, a British maritime writer and yacht captain, saying that the Mediterranean may be close to its limit: “There’s no place else to build in the Mediterranean and there’s a lot of local antipathy to new marinas.”

January 12, 2007, 9:13 am

Can Yachts Get Any Bigger? Yes!

abramovichAt a yacht show last year, I asked a few boating executives what the natural “limit” would be on private yachts. Yachts were growing so outlandishly large that I figured there had to be a breaking point. At more than 400 feet, you’re really talking about a cruise ship with no passengers, rather than a private yacht. The executives told me that 450 feet was the likely limit. Larry Ellison was already grumbling about how his yacht, the 454-foot Rising Sun, was too big to get into most private marinas. And he complained to friends that he felt “lost” in the ship’s giant rooms.

Turns out, the executives were wrong.

My column today is about the biggest private yacht in the world, being built by Russian Roman Abramovich. It’s called Eclipse and it will be at least 525 feet, and probably longer. Abramovich’s goal was to “eclipse” Dubai, the 525-foot monster owned by a sheikh.

In other words, there is no physical limit to yachts. They will grow as big as today’s fortunes (and egos) allow.

January 8, 2007, 2:38 pm

A Boating Deal?

Larry Ellison, the Oracle chief known for his boat fetish, has been has trying for months to unload his super-yacht, Rising Sun. The 454-foot white elephant, which cost more than $250 million to build, is simply too big to dock at most marinas. And Ellison has told friends he felt “lost” on board because of its size.

Larry EllisonNow an old friend has apparently come along to bail him out. According to people in the yachting world, fellow California billionaire David Geffen has purchased a part-ownership in Rising Sun. The deal, akin to fractional ownership, will allow Geffen to use the boat part of the time and pay an equivalent part of the overhead. It’s unclear how much Geffen purchased or what he paid. But a person familiar with the deal said he paid upwards of $125 million for a half-ownership.

Geffen and Ellison couldn’t be reached for comment this morning. Rumors of a deal surfaced last week on Valleywag. Ellison told Vanity Fair in 2005 that he had considered selling the boat but changed his mind.

“It is absolutely excessive,” he told the magazine. “No question about it. When I was talking about selling her, I’d only spent 10 days with her and I didn’t know then whether it was newness or the scale that was the problem. Turns out, it was the newness. It’s really only the size of a very large house.”

Fractional deals have been part of the yachting world for years. But they rarely work: Both owners usually want the boat during the same periods (December holidays, Easter, August, etc.), and they often bicker over costs.

But brokers say the Geffen-Ellison merger stands a better chance because the two are close friends.

“If the deal is structured well, with a lot of detail, this could work out well for the two of them,” said one broker.

Source: Wall Street Blog

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Bill Gates, Microsoft
Estimated Net Worth: $56 billion

The second richest man in the world is also arguably the most philanthropic in history. He and his wife preside over the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with its $33 billion endowment–not including the additional $31 million committed by Warren Buffett last year.

Among his many goals is to increase the agricultural productivity of African farmers, develop preventative treatments for malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and expand financial services to the poor. “The philosophy that Carnegie had in The Gospel of Wealth,” Bill Gates told Charlie Rose last summer, “It really helped me think about philanthropy, and, you know, how you ought to set very high goals.” Bill Gates will this year leave his position at Microsoft to solely concentrate on philanthropic work around the world using Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Pierre Omidyar, eBay
Estimated Net Worth: $8.8 billion

The eBay founder is a vocal proponent of microfinance–small loans to those generally too poor for traditional bank loans–as a method of cultivating entrepreneurship in Africa. Two years ago he and his wife Pamela donated $100 million to Tufts University to create a microfinance fund that will provide millions of loans, some as small as $40, in developing African and Latin countries.

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Oprah Winfrey
Estimated Net Worth: $1.5 billion

Earlier this year the Queen of All Media opened the $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls outside Johannesburg, South Africa. Two months later she cut the ribbon on another. Her charity, the Angel Network, raises funds for everything from HIV/AIDS treatment for African communities ravaged by the disease to Christmas gifts for African orphans.

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George Soros, Hedge Funds
Estimated Net Worth: $8.5 billion

Soros’ investment in Africa began in 1979 when the already wealthy financier helped bankroll the educations of black students attending the University of Cape Town in apartheid South Africa. Among his many recent projects on the continent are the funding of free and open media, greater public participation and local government, and compliance of African nations to human rights. Last year Soros pledged $50 million to support the Millennium Villages, some 30 villages in sub-Saharan Africa in need of health, education and farming support.

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ALTStephen Case, AOL
Estimated Net Worth: $1 billion

Through his Case Foundation, the former AOL chairman and his wife Jean have committed at least $5 million to PlayPumps, which builds water pumps that also function as merry-go-rounds for rural African communities in dire need of clean drinking water. The Foundation also provides fund-raising expertise and support to KickStart, which sells low-cost farming tools and supplies to help African families “kick-start” their family’s economic growth. During her last visit to Zambia, US First Lady Laura Bush visited PlayPump at a Basic School in Lusaka promoted by Stephen Case’s philanthropy.

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Sanford “Sandy” Weill, Citigroup
Estimated Net Worth: $1.6 billion

The retired Citigroup chairman is now an active philanthropist. As chairman of the board of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, he is overseeing the development of a medical center in Tanzania, where an estimated 9% of the population is afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Weill’s wife Joan sits on the board of the Touch Foundation, through which the couple have donated millions to underwrite medical training for Tanzanian doctors and care workers.

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ALTWarren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway
Estimated Net Worth: $52 billion

Last year, the Oracle of Omaha, and until recently the second-richest man in the world, committed $31 billion of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is particularly active in alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable growth in Africa. Buffett and the Gates’ appeared on PBS’ TheCharlie Rose Show last summer to discuss the gift. “The diseases we’ve already been working on and the education and the inequities that we’ve been looking at for so long just basically doubled by Warren’s gift,” Melinda Gates remarked.

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ALTThomas Hunter, West Coast Capital
Estimated Net Worth: $1.1 billion

The Scottish billionaire plowed proceeds from the 1998 sale of his sneaker business into West Coast Capital, which invests primarily in real estate and retail businesses. Two years ago, he hooked up with former President Bill Clinton to launch the Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative, which he seeded with $100 million. The funds will help provide health care, clean water, sanitation and security in Rwanda and Malawi. Hunter has also committed $12 million to UNICEF’s food program in Niger.

Of the eight philanthropists above – now commonly known as ” Billionaires For Africa”, seven of them live in the United States of America and the only black is a woman from Chicago, IL … thanks a trillion

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

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