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Press Association
Sun 3 Apr 2005
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2:50am (UK)
Overseas Billionaires Top Britain's Rich List

By Paul Marinko, PA

Seven of the top 10 richest billionaires in Britain come from overseas, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

The survey reveals that foreigners outnumber Britons at the top of the list, with the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal topping the table with an estimated wealth of £14.8 billion.

Chelsea Football Club owner and oil magnate Roman Abramovich drops to second place, but his wealth has held steady over the year at £7.5 billion.

The Duke of Westminster, the richest British-born man in the list, drops to third place with £5.6 billion.

Two arms of the Swedish Rausing family also make it into the top 10, with Hans Rausing’s (4th) food packaging business valued at £4.95 billion and Kirsten and Jorn Rausing’s (8th) wealth from inheritance and investments worth £2.575 billion.

Tycoon Philip Green and wife Christina make it to number five (£4.85 billion) and head the couples list. And a friend of Abramovich, Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska, enters the list for the first time with a fortune of £4.375 billion (6th).

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson drops one place in the list (7th), with a wealth of £3 billion, as do the Bombay-born property and metal duo David and Simon Reuben (9th, £2.5 billion) and Greek banking, aviation and shipping billionaire Spiro Latsis (10th, £2.4 billion).

Indian-born Lakshmi Mittal, who made his first appearance on the Rich List in 1997 becomes the richest person ever to top it in its 17-year history. His wealth is almost double the fortune of Abramovich, who topped the list last year. Mittal’s fortune has soared by 322% from its £3.5 billion total in 2004.

Last October he pulled off a three-way merger of LNM Holdings – his private steel business – with Ispat (in which he has a 77% stake) and US company International Steel Group to create the world’s biggest steelmaker. The renamed Mittal Steel employs 165,000 workers and turned out 60 million tonnes of steel last year.

The Duke of Westminster could not topple Abramovich despite adding £600 million to his fortune in the past year thanks to the success of his property development company Grosvenor Group.

The company announced plans last year for one of Bath’s biggest developments, and Westminster owns vast estates in Lancashire and Cheshire, swathes of central London, and land throughout the world.

Russian Oleg Deripaska is this year’s top new entry. The former metal trader – a close friend of Abramovich – took control of Russian Aluminium (Rusal), the country’s leading producer, in 2000 at the age of 31.

Today, Rusal is one of the world’s largest private companies, with a £2.35 billion turnover and 63,000 employees.

Among the other overseas tycoons included in the list are a number of Icelanders. They include Thor Bjorgolfsson (equal 125, £400 million) – who made his money from brewing and pharmaceuticals – and Jon Asgeir Johannesson (equal 751th, £65 million) – whose Baugar Group is buying the Iceland supermarket chain.

The list of the 1,000 wealthiest people in Britain has more billionaires than ever before. At 40, it is 10 higher than last year.

The combined wealth of the top 10 is £52.55 billion, £10 billion more than the top 200 10 years ago.

The top 1,000 on the list now have £249.615 billion between them. This is the highest wealth total ever recorded and a 23.3% increase on last year.

Eight years ago the wealth of the richest 1,000 stood at £98.99 billion, when there were just 16 billionaires on the list.

There are a growing number of husband-and-wife teams in this year’s Rich List with the Greens topping the group. It makes South African-born Christina the richest woman in the UK. Both Bhs and Arcadia are held in her name and she lives in Monte Carlo.

The couple’s holdings in the two main businesses are worth £3.7 billion and substantial other assets add another £1.15 billion to their fortune. Philip has twice attempted to buy Marks & Spencer.

Other couples on the list include Madonna and Guy Ritchie, who rank 208th overall with £235 million, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas – ranking equal 285th with £170 million and Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne who have a combined wealth of £100 million (equal 458th).

Further down are the Beckhams with an estimated wealth of £75 million (equal 654th).

This year’s list also sees a growing number of women who are making their mark through divorce settlements. Alisa Marks, former wife of French Connection boss Stephen Marks, is a new entry at equal 938th (£50 million) thanks largely to the £40 million divorce settlement she received last year.

Former model Sally Croker-Poole, the first wife of the Aga Khan, did not receive enough to qualify for the main list of Britain’s richest 1,000 but appears in equal 85th place on the list of the 100 wealthiest women. She also received a £40 million divorce settlement in 1995.

Croker-Poole was married for 25 years to the billionaire racehorse owner, who is leader of the Ismaili people.

Another woman, Hilary Weston, tops the Irish list with a £5.1 billion fortune rooted in her husband Galen’s retail empire. She appears in it for the first time following a rule change to allow Irish nationals to appear who have generated their wealth outside of Britain and Ireland.

The Dublin-born 63-year-old former model divides her time between Ireland and Canada and the couple also have a home in Windsor Great Park.

There are a record 81 women on the latest list, up from 78 in 2005.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has increased her wealth again this year, taking it from £435 million in 2004 to £500 million. It places her at equal 96th in the overall list and makes her equal 9th in the list of the wealthiest women.

The Queen ranks 15th in the richest women table and equal 180th in the main list with £270 million.

Other notable women who are ranked among Britain’s 100 wealthiest women but who did not have the £50 million required to make it on to the main list include singers Kylie Minogue, Annie Lennox and Sade, who all rank equal 92th with £35 million.

Dido and Frasier star Jane Leeves take equal 96th place on the women’s list with £30 million.

The 17th annual Sunday Times Rich List is based on identifiable wealth (land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, or significant shares in publicly quoted companies). It excludes bank accounts (to which the paper has no access).

This year, the paper increased the fortune required to make it into the top 1,000 by £10 million to £50 million.

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