By Matthew G. Miller – Jan 25, 2012 2:18 AM ET
Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk wants to talk about income inequality. So does Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien and Indian billionaire Vikas Oberoi.
The three are among a contingent of at least 70 billionaires who are joining more than 2,500 business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week, according to a list of attendees and promotional materials obtained by Bloomberg News. A half-dozen of the richest participants, interviewed in advance of the conference, say economic disparity needs to be addressed.
“Many who will be in Davos are the people being blamed for economic inequalities,” Oberoi, 42, chairman of Oberoi Realty Ltd. (OBER), India’s second-biggest real estate developer by market value, said in an interview earlier this month by mobile phone from his car in Mumbai. “I hope it’s not just about glamour and people having a big party.”
Oberoi, who’s attending Davos for the first time, and like- minded billionaires may have trouble finding the subject of income inequality on the agenda. While the forum’s Global Risks 2012 report, published this month, describes “severe income disparity” as the world’s top risk over the next 10 years, tied with fiscal imbalances and ahead of greenhouse-gas emissions, the word “inequality” appears only once in the event’s 130- page program, and that’s in the title of a panel about art.
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