Houston’s newest billionaire made his fortune in, you guessed it, oil and gas.
Daniel Harrison III, a 65-year-old Texas oil and gas heir, ranks No. 1,268 out of 1,426 on the list of the world’s billionaires, released Monday by Forbes. The business magazine calculates his net worth at $1.1 billion.
The accompanying profile says Harrison in 2010 leased his 100,000-acre ranch in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas to Shell Oil Co. for $1 billion in cash, plus royalties for future oil and gas production.
“The 2010 deal appears to be the biggest ever for a family with deep roots in Texas oil,” the Forbes profile states. “His grandfather, the first Dan Harrison, was a legendary Texas oilman, teaming up with J.S. Abercrombie to discover gushers like the Old Ocean field in Brazoria County. He built up an oil and ranching empire across Texas.”
Harrison is one of 15 Houston-area billionaires to make the list this year. The other 14 all rank higher and have all made the list previously, with 13 of them landing on the list last year.
Harrison and money manager Fayez Sarofim, who last made the list in 2008, are the only Houstonians on this year’s list who were not ranked in 2012. Forbes attributes Sarofim’s return to heavy investment in Kinder Morgan.
Fifteen people from the Houston area are included on this year’s global list of billionaires, compiled by Forbes:
No. 112 (of 1,426 billionaires worldwide): Richard Kinder, pipelines, net worth of $9.8 billion
No. 219: Jeffery Hildebrand, oil, $5.5 billion
No. 239: Dannine Avara, pipelines, $5.1 billion
No. 239: Scott Duncan, pipelines, $5.1 billion
No. 239: Milane Frantz, pipelines, $5.1 billion
No. 239: Randa Williams, pipelines, $5.1 billion
No. 503: John Arnold, hedge funds, $2.8 billion
No. 736: George Mitchell, oil and gas, $2 billion
No. 831: Bob McNair, energy, sports, $1.8 billion
No. 882: Tilman Fertitta, restaurants, casinos, $1.7 billion
No. 882: Thomas Friedkin, Toyota distribution, $1.7 billion
No. 974: Joe Jamail Jr., lawsuits, $1.5 billion
No. 1,031: Fayez Sarofim, money management, $1.4 billion
No. 1,175: Bud Adams, oil, $1.2 billion
No. 1,268: Daniel Harrison III, oil and gas, $1.1 billion
While the U.S. is still home to the most billionaires on the Forbes list, the magazine declared the world’s richest person to be Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico, who controls industrial, finance and telecom companies. This is his fourth year in the top spot.
The Forbes profile of Harrison describes him as “very private” and includes no photograph. It says Harrison’s father, Dan Jr., “ran the ranchland and was a master breeder of quarterhorses.”
“To this day Dan III maintains a quarterhorse operation on a ranch in Fulshear,” the profile says. It goes on to say that Harrison and his brother Bruce Harrison, who died in 2004, sold a 43,000-acre ranch in West Texas in 1990 for about $70 million.
Texas Monthly cited the brothers as two of the 100 richest Texans for the first time in 1992 shortly after the sale of that ranch to Meridian Oil.
“In 1990, the boys cashed in part of their inheritance by selling one of the family’s gems, the 43,000-acre oil-rich West Texas ranch located between Rocksprings and Sonora,” the magazine said, noting that Dan III “attended Trinity University but didn’t graduate.”
The magazine said the brothers’ grandfather Dan J. Harrison served as a regent for the University of Texas, where he played football in the early 1900s and “began his oil, gas, and ranching career in 1903, eventually founding an oil, gas, and ranching empire that stretched across the state.” He was also a county and district attorney in Liberty County.
Calls to the Houston office of Harrison Interests Ltd. were not returned and other efforts to reach Harrison were unsuccessful.
Twelve of the Houston-area billionaires saw their net worth increase from last year. George Mitchell, “the father of natural gas drilling,” and attorney Joe Jamail Jr., stayed the same. The other, hedge fund manager John Arnold, decreased.
“Resurgent asset prices are the driving force behind the rising wealth of the super-rich around the globe,” Forbes said. “While last year almost as many fortunes fell as rose, this year gainers outnumbered losers by 4-to-1.”
Among the Top 10 on the list are Americans Bill Gates (No. 2), Warren Buffett (No. 4) and the Koch brothers, Charles and David, who are both ranked No. 6.
Forbes notes that this is the first year since 2000 that Buffett hasn’t been ranked among the Top 3, having been topped by Amancio Ortega of Spanish retail giant Zara.
Ortega is “the year’s biggest gainer, adding $19.5 billion to his fortune in one year,” an introduction notes. “He moves ahead of Warren Buffett, despite the fact that the U.S. investing legend added $9.5 billion to his fortune.”