LONDON: Britain’s annual rich list released on Sunday has a distinctly Indian flavour with two sets of India-born brothers — Reuben and the Hinduja — grabbing the top two slots.
Mumbai-born tycoons David and Simon Reuben have topped ‘The Sunday Times’ Rich List 2016 with a fortune of 13.1 billion pounds, followed by the Hinduja brothers at 13 billion pounds.
The Reubens were born in India to a wealthy Iraqi-Jewish family before moving to Britain in the 1950’s and made their fortune in metals and property.
This year they have increased their fortune by 3.4 billion pounds to jump to the top slot from last year’s fifth position.
Their mouthwatering collection of London property includes Millbank Tower, the John Lewis Partnership HQ in Victoria and shops in Sloane Street. The list goes on. They own London Oxford Airport and London Heliport and were a leading investor in Metro Bank, which floated last month at 1.6 billion pounds,” the newspaper notes.
“Famously wary of debt, David, 77, and Simon, 74, keep a large proportion of their wealth in liquid assets, such as cash and bonds, and cautiously value their properties at cost.
“Overseas property and a metals operation add 300 million pounds, while the hidden value in their London portfolio and their Global Switch stake take the Reubens, who live in Switzerland, to 13.1 billion pounds,” it adds.
Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, who head the Hinduja Group, hold on to their second rank from last year with an unchanged fortune.
“The old War Office in London’s Whitehall was bought for 300 million pounds by the Hinduja family in March on a 250- year lease. They plan to turn it into a hotel worth 1 billion,” it noted.
However, another Indian tycoon did not have a similarly fruitful year with Lakshmi N Mittal’s steel empire taking a hit from the global industry crisis and losing nearly three- quarters of his wealth.
The 65-year-old ArcelorMittal chief held the top slot on the list back in 2008 with a whopping 27.7 billion pounds, which is now down to just 7.12 billion this year.
He slips to 11th on the list from 7th last year.
“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,” said Robert Watts, compiler of the 2016 list.
NRI steel tycoon Lord Swraj Paul and family are also among those hit by the steel crisis, with their fortune registering a 66 per cent drop to 740 million pounds, to be ranked 154th this year compared to 44th in 2015.
“The turmoil in the steel industry hit Paul’s Caparo business last autumn when 16 of its companies went into administration. Most of the firms and jobs were saved by Sanjeev Gupta, who is interested in the Port Talbot steel complex.
“Indian-born Paul, 85, gives generously to charity,” the rich list reads.
Completing this year’s top three is Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik, who has 11.59 billion pounds.
He has dropped two places after a reduction in wealth by 1.58 billion pounds.
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 105 million pounds.
British racing driver Lewis Hamilton also enters the main list for the first time, with 106 million pounds.
The UK has clocked 120 billionaires this year, the highest recorded since 2006, but the number of London billionaires fell for the first time since the financial crash – from 80 in 2015 to 77.
On the global scale, India has a record 56 billionaires, compared to 193 in China and 43 in Russia.
In a linked analysis of the “50 Richest in the World”, Reliance brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani have been jointly ranked 30 with a fortune of 17.9 billion pounds.
They are the only India-based rich to feature in the top 50, which is topped by Walmart’s Walton family with a fortune of 88.7 billion pounds.
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 60 million pounds to make the cut in 2006.