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Davos waits on Gates
January 28, 2001: 2:45 p.m. ET

Microsoft boss to headline at World Economic Forum
By Rod Cant Europe business writer
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DAVOS, Switzerland (CNNfn) - The world's most powerful businessmen will listen in awe on Monday, as Bill Gates makes his annual appearance at the World Economic Forum.

Gates will ennoble an already aristocratic-looking panel, early on Monday, when he joins a collection of high-profile bosses to discuss the convergence of wireless, Internet and other devices.

Nobuyuki Idei of Sony, Hong Kong Internet entrepreneur Richard Li, Vivendi Universal (PEX) boss Jean-Marie Messier and Thomas Middelhoff of Bertelsmann complete a starry lineup of leading chief executives.

Gates' appearances at Davos always draw packed crowds, and he often uses the World Economic Forum to proffer his views on upcoming developments in the technology arena, as well as promoting the colossal benevolence of his charitable foundation.

It should be a lively discussion, with Richard Li, executive chairman of Asia's leading Internet company, Pacific Century CyberWorks, presenting the view from Asia on what challenges the mobile connected world bring for individuals and organisations.

Idei will represent the views of one of the world's biggest consumer products firms, and Middelhoff and Messier represent Europe's two largest media firms, companies which have invested heavily in the "new economy".

Gates, now titled "chief software architect" at Microsoft (MSFT: Research, Estimates) after stepping down from the CEO's role last year, still owns some 20 percent of the firm's stock, making him a multibillionaire, even at the share price's currently depressed levels.

Later Monday he'll discuss how he puts that vast wealth to good use when he is part of a panel discussion on how governments and business can work better to combat diseases that cause poverty. His colleagues on that panel include: the director-general of the World Health Organisation, the presidents of Mozambique and South Africa, and the CEO of drug firm Pfizer (PFE: Research, Estimates). graphic