India-born Reubens, Hindujas top UK rich list

25 Apr 2016


India-born property tycoons the Reuben brothers and the Hinduja brothers topped the UK's Sunday Times rich list this year, while those who built their wealth on commodities such as oil and steel suffered multi-billion pound falls as rock-bottom prices ate into their personal assets.

The number of billionaires living in Britain has risen at its slowest pace since the financial crisis after some of the country's richest people saw their fortunes plummet over the past year.

But there were big rises for property tycoons, including the latest table-toppers, the Reuben brothers, while the list was gate-crashed by new entrants such as Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and Sacha Baron-Cohen, the comedian and actor who has promoted Ali G and Borat.

Sibling property investors David and Simon Reuben, who made their first fortune purchasing Russian aluminium before buying up large tracts of London's landmark buildings, reached the summit of the annual Sunday Times rich list of Britain's 1,000 wealthiest people with a combined fortune of £13.1 billion, after climbing four places in a year.

Sri and Gopi Hinduja finished a close second with £13 billion, leapfrogging last year's richest man, the Warner Music Group owner Len Blavatnik. The tycoon, born in Odessa, Ukraine, fell two places to third as his wealth slumped by £1.6 billion to £11.6 billion.

While the combined worth of Britain's billionaires grew by nearly 6 per cent to £344 billion, Blavatnik's fate was mirrored by a host of ultra-wealthy business people.

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and family, who in 2008 boasted a £27.7 billion fortune that outstripped any in British history, saw his wealth decline by £2 billion last year to £7.1 billion.

Mittal's wealth was affected by the ongoing crisis in the steel industry, which has claimed more than 5,000 jobs in Britain alone over the past year.

The Chelsea FC owner, Roman Abramovich, who made his fortune through his Russian oil business Sibneft, witnessed his worth fall by £890 million to £6.4 billion.

The Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley, who has been rocked by a Guardian investigation into working conditions in his retail empire, was among the biggest losers, as his personal pot shrank by £1.1 billion to £2.4 billion.

Fellow retail tycoon Sir Philip Green suffered a £280-million decline to £3.2 billion after a year in which he sold the BHS high street chain for £1, only to watch it plummet towards an administration process likely to begin on Monday.

The single biggest loss of wealth affected Carrie and François Perrodo and family, whose value is built on Franco-British oil firm Perenco. Their combined assets tumbled £2.45 billion to £3.35 billion amid persistently low oil prices.

Few additions
Hefty losses among some of Britain's richest people meant that the number of billionaires in the UK increased by just three to 120, the slowest rate of growth since the financial crisis, when their ranks dwindled from 75 to 43 in 2009.

And while London remains the world's preferred playground for billionaires, boasting more of them than any other city, there were three fewer than last year at 77.

The annual list of Britain's ultra-wealthy also boasted some spectacular rises, such as that of Sir James Dyson, the inventor famed for his bagless vacuum cleaner, among other creations. His household goods and technology business reported profits of £448 million last year, with salaries and dividends boosting the Dyson family's wealth by £1.5 billion to £5 billion.

Perhaps the most remarkable rise was staged by the little-known brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who were leasing a single dilapidated garage in Bury just 15 years ago. The pair has since built an empire worth £700 million by buying and renovating service stations to create a 341-strong chain of Euro Garages. They soared 473 places to 164th as their fortune increased by £550 million to £700 million.

Britain's richest woman is Kirsty Bertarelli, the former Miss UK and would-be pop star who, with her husband, the pharmaceutical billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, has a combined worth £9.8 billion, making them the richest husband and wife team.

The wealthiest self-made businesswoman in the UK is Denise Coates, who built the Bet365 business with her family, amassing a combined worth of nearly £3.8 billion.

Lowly Queen
The Queen, who celebrated her 90th birthday last week, saw her wealth remain flat at £340 million but dropped 17 places in the list to be 319th.

The sum puts her on level pegging with the entertainment mogul Simon Cowell, the man behind The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.

New entries included Baron-Cohen, who made his name with his Ali G character and this year released Grimsby, his first film in a decade. Together with his wife, the former soap opera star Isla Fisher, the 44-year-old is worth £105 million, putting him 936th in Britain.

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was another new entry and Britain's richest sportsman with a fortune of £106 million.

Pop star Adele saw her personal worth soar by £35 million to £85 million, while there was no surprise that the wealthiest band were One Direction, worth a combined £132m.

Overall, the 1,000 wealthiest people in Britain are worth a combined £576 billion, an increase of £28.5 billion on last year, which equality campaigners said amounted to an increase of £901 every second.

Rich-poor divide
The Equality Trust pointed out that the wealth of the richest 1,000 was the same as that owned by the poorest 40 per cent in the UK.

They said the increase in the worth of rich list members could have paid for everyone in Britain's council tax, a year's rent for 3 million households or 1.8 million jobs on the living wage.

''The level of inequality in the UK is both completely unjustifiable and hugely damaging for society,'' said John Hood, acting director.

 ''A wealth of evidence now shows us that living in a more unequal country means you're more likely to suffer from poor mental and physical health, have poorer education, trust people less, be the victim of violent crime and even die earlier. It's not good enough for politicians to repeatedly fail to act on this.''

Many of the rich list members chose to use their wealth to fund the Conservative party, with only eight out of the top 50 political donors spurning the Tories.

But the Conservatives were denied the two biggest political donations, with the media mogul Richard Desmond handing £1 million to Ukip and EuroMillions lottery winners Colin and Chris Weir giving £1 million of their £153 million winnings to the Scottish National party during the year.

Rolling in money: The UK Top 10

The Sunday Times list of Britain's richest persons and the source of their wealth, with their previous year's ranking in brackets:

  • 1 (5) David and Simon Reuben £13.1bn (up £3.4bn) Property, internet
  • 2 (2) Sri and Gopi Hinduja £13bn Industry and finance
  • 3(1) Len Blavatnik £11.6bn (down £1.58bn) Music, media and investment
  • 4(3) Galen and George Weston and family £11bn Retailing
  • 5 (6) Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli £9.78bn (up £330m) Pharmaceuticals
  • 6 (9) The Duke of Westminster £9.35bn (up £790m) Property
  • 7 (12) Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho £9.15bn (up £2bn) Inheritance
  • 8 (8) Kirsten and Jorn Rausing £8.7bn Inheritance, investment
  • 9 (14) Hans Rausing and family £8.6bn (up £2.2bn) Packaging
  • 10 (4) Alisher Usmanov £7.58bn (down £2.22bn) Investment

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