Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect, the world’s most admired business leader, according to a new global study conducted by Burson-Marsteller with the Economist Intelligence Unit, which asked more than 600 global business influentials in 65 countries to nominate the CEO or chairman they admire most in the business world today.

“The selection of Bill Gates as the 2005 world’s most admired leader not only recognizes his ongoing stewardship at the company he founded but it also acknowledges the powerful effect that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has had on Bill Gates’ reputation,” says Leslie Gaines-Ross, Burson-Marsteller’s chief knowledge and research officer worldwide and the study’s architect. “Leaders and their companies can no longer safely ignore the value placed on corporate responsibility and commitment by 21st century citizens.”

Among the survey’s more interesting findings:
• Despite the predominance of American companies among the top four most admired leaders, more than half (nine of 15 or 60 percent) represent other regions: the UK (4), Finland (1), Netherlands (1), Japan/France (1), India (1) and Australia (1).
• Eight of the top 15 leaders (53 percent) are company founders.
• All of the global most admired are insider CEOs (CEOs who have been with the same company for three years or more).
• No female CEOs or chairmen were chosen.

“Business decision-makers clearly voted for long-term performance and proven track records over fleeting success,” said Patrick Ford, Burson-Marsteller’s global corporate and financial practice chair. “The tenures of these top-ranking CEOs are not short-lived. They had an average tenure of 21 years to repeatedly prove themselves.”

1. Bill Gates  Microsof (U.S.)
2. Steve Jobs  Apple (U.S.)
3. Warren Buffet  Berkshire Hathaway (U.S.)
4. Michael Dell  Dell Computer (U.S.)
5. Richard Branson  Virgin (U.K.)
6. John Browne  BP (U.K.)
7. Carlos Ghosn  Nissan/Renault (Japan/France)
8. N.R. Narayana Murthy  Infosys (India)
9. Jeffrey Immelt  GE (U.S.)
10. Rupert Murdoch  News Corp. (Australia)