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What makes Forbes’ world’s richest people rich? Tech, hedge funds and … Nutella

According to the Forbes list there are 1,645 billionaires around the world, and among the top 50 are the usual faces of tech (as in Facebook and Google), the impresarios behind Walmart, HM and LVMH, the e-retail king of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos, and hedge fund king George Soros.

Also on the list at No. 22 is the world’s richest candy man, 88-year-old Michele Ferrero. He’s head of the family that owns the Ferrero Group, which makes Kinder and Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Tic Tac and the beloved cocoa-hazelnut spread Nutella, with annual sales of $19 billion. The net worth of Michele Ferrero and his family is $26.5 billion. Michele Ferrero is also Italy’s richest person, beating Silvio Berlusconi in 2008.

In 1946 Ferrero’s father, Pietro, started making blocks of pasta gianduja (it wasn’t called Nutella or sold in jars until the ’60s) at his Alba bakery to extend his cocoa supply that was rationed during World War II.

Michele expanded the company, and his son, Giovanni, now heads the company and continues to push growth in markets such as Asia and Russia as well as the U.S. Sales in 2012 were up 8% year over year, pushing the family’s net worth up $6 billion since last year.

Confections have proved lucrative to others. Also on the list are siblings Forrest Mars Jr., Jacqueline Mars and John Mars, owners of Mars, which invented the malt-flavored nougat in Milky Way and Snickers bars and later MM’s, at No. 31 with $20 billion. According to Forbes, more than 400 million MM’s are produced each day. Cha-ching.

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