London: The Hinduja brothers have topped the 2017 list of the richest people in the UK with an estimated fortune of £16.2 billion, a massive £3.2 billion hike in their fortunes over the previous year.
Besides the Hinduja brothers, there are over 40 Indian-origin super-rich in this year’s list of the UK’s 1,000 wealthiest people, who seem to be reaping a so-called “Brexit bonanza”.
‘The Sunday Times Rich List’ says that uncertainties triggered by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) last June have not impacted the country’s billionaires’ ability to make money, as they grew in numbers with a 14% rise in their fortunes since last year to earn a record £658 billion collectively.
Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, aged 81 and 77, lead an elite group of 134 UK-based billionaires in the list and have made their fortune from investments in industries such as oil and gas, automotive, IT, energy, media, banking, property and healthcare sectors. Their latest £350-million project is converting the Old War Office in London into a five-star hotel and luxury apartments, the newspaper notes.
“The Hindujas have also recently bought British assets including Careline, an outsourcing business, and the bus maker Optare. There are assets in Switzerland of about £3.6 billion, according to Bilan’s 2016 ‘Swiss Rich List’. Their six-storey mansion, a sapphire’s throw from Buckingham Palace, adds £300 million,” it adds.
Another set of India-born entrepreneurial brothers, David and Simon Reuben, who had topped the list last year have moved down to third place with a fortune of £14 billion and steel tycoon Lakshmi N. Mittal is at fourth with £13. 2 billion.
“The furnaces are roaring again in the steel industry. Mittal, 66, the largest steelmaker in the world, is feeling the effect in his bank balance and on the ‘Rich List’, where his £6.1 billion increase from last year is one of the highest annual rises to date,” the list reads.
However, he remains a long way from his 2008 peak as the UK’s richest with then fortunes of £27.7 billion. The second spot, occupied by the Hinduja brothers until 2016, has been taken over by Ukrainian businessman Len Blavatnik (£15.9 billion).
“While many of us worried about the outcome of the EU referendum, many of Britain’s richest people just kept calm and carried on making billions,” said Robert Watts, compiler of the list for the newspaper. “We expected to see a chilling effect in the run-up to the EU referendum, but that simply did not materialise. A buoyant stock market usually drives the wealth of Rich Listers higher, and since last June equities have soared,” he said.
Among the other 40 Indian-origin super-rich include new billionaires Gujarati migrant brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, whose Euro Garages business is Europe’s largest independent fuel retailer. They are ranked 133rd on the list with a fortune of £1 billion.
Joining them among the new billionaires are another set of brothers–Raj, Tony and Harpal Matharu–who made £1 billion last year with their Grange hotel chain in the UK. NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul’s business marked an £80-million dip over last year, moving him down to the 194th slot, with an estimated wealth of 660 million pounds.
“A number of Paul’s businesses went into administration in late 2015 as a result of the steel industry crisis and his London-based Caparo Group, which includes property interests, saw its assets sink from £77 million to £49.6 million,” the list notes.
The other Indian-origin billionaires on the list include Sri Prakash Lohia at 27 with £3.97 billion; metals tycoon Anil Agarwal at 60 with £2 billion; Sunil Vaswani and family’s car dealerships business at 63 worth around £1.97 billion; Manchester-based Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora at 65 with £1.92 billion; Navin and Varsha Engineer’s pharmaceuticals business at 107 and valued at £1.2 billion; and hotelier Jasminder Singh and family is ranked 128 with £1.03 billion.
Most of the remaining millionaires with Indian roots have made their money in a variety of industries, including Bhikhu and Vijay Patel in pharmaceuticals (£675 million); Jatania brothers in toiletries and property (£630 million); Southall Travels owners Kuljinder Bahia and family in the travel industry (£420 million); and Tom Singh and family in fashion (£385 million).
Among the artists, Mumbai-born sculptor Anish Kapoor makes the list of 1,000 with £134 million. He joins popular singer Adele, who is listed as Britain’s wealthiest female musician with £125 million. This year’s list has been described as more diverse in composition, with more women, more people from ethnic backgrounds, and more from surprising walks of life, with egg farmers and pet food makers among the super-rich line-up.
It now takes assets of £110 million to break into the ranks of the richest 1,000 people in the UK. The figure in 2016 was £103 million. The top 20 in the list alone are worth a total of £191.77 billion, increasing their wealth by £35.18 billion over the past 12 months.