Britain’s super-rich have suffered the worst hammering of their fortunes since the financial crash, with Lakshmi Mittal losing three-quarters of his wealth, according to the new Sunday Times Rich List published yesterday.
Mittal, 65, topped the list in 2008 with £27.7bn — the biggest fortune achieved by anyone on the Rich List before or since. This year’s global crisis in the steel industry has sent his finances plummeting and he and his family are now worth £7.12bn — hardly the breadline, but a long way short of their peak, and a £2.08bn loss last year.
He is not alone. The oil billionaires Carrie and François Perrodo and family have lost 42% of their fortune since last year with a £2.45bn drop, down to £3.35bn, and Alisher Usmanov, the second-biggest shareholder in Arsenal football club, has lost 23% — down to £7.58bn — since last year.
Ten people in last year’s exclusive ranks of billionaires have fallen out of the top bracket to the level of mere multimillionaires. They include John Hargreaves, founder of the clothing store Matalan; the hedge-fund manager Crispin Odey; the steel maker Lord Paul; and Telis Mistakidis and Alex Beard, executives at the commodities trading giant Glencore.
On the eve of his marriage to a former page three model, Nat Rothschild, the son of the influential financier Lord Rothschild, has had an even starker experience: worth £1bn in the 2012 Rich List, he falls off the list altogether this year, with his fortune now reduced to £70m after a series of business problems.
Among celebrity names, Sacha Baron Cohen, who made his name as Ali G, and his actress wife Isla Fisher are in the list for the first time, with a fortune of £105m. The racing driver Lewis Hamilton also enters the main list for the first time, with £106m.
Fawn, 30, and India Rose James, 24, the granddaughters of the late soft porn baron Paul Raymond, emerge as the wealthiest young women in Britain, with £482m, while David and Victoria Beckham are closing in on the Queen with a £40m rise in their fortune, to £280m.
One big name who drops out of the high earners’ league is Lord Wolfson, chief executive of Next. After shares in the firm slumped, his fortune has dipped £20m to £100m, sending him tumbling off the Rich List after three years.
Robert Watts, taking over as compiler of the Rich List from Philip Beresford, said: “The guys at the top who are feeling the pain this year are often hit by a cocktail of plunging stock markets, low oil prices and the crisis in the steel industry — sometimes by all three.”
The number of billionaires in London has fallen this year for the first time since the financial crisis: 77, down from 80 last year. Overall, the ranks of billionaires have more than doubled between 2006 and this year, so the rate of increase has slowed markedly. There are also other signs that the rich are not getting richer at quite the rate of previous years.
Every year for the past decade (with the exception of 2009, which was hit by the banking collapse the previous year), the fortune needed to enter the Rich List has risen sharply. It took £60m to make the cut in 2006. That had risen to £100m last year, breaking the three-figure barrier for the first time. But this year, that figure has nudged up by only 3%, to £103m, the smallest percentage increase since 2012.
The richest people in Britain are the Mumbai-born brothers David and Simon Reuben, who came to Britain in the 1950s and are now worth £13.1bn, up £3.4bn on last year. They began as traders selling everything from scrap metal to carpets, before moving to Russia in the 1990s to take advantage of economic liberalisation and make their first billion-pound fortune trading aluminium.
• Culled from The Times