Britain’s rich list billionaires are wealthier than the Queen

Jackie Cameron, BizNews

former chairman of Anglo-American and De Beers Nicky Oppenheimer.
former chairman of Anglo-American and De Beers Nicky Oppenheimer.

BRITAIN’S BILLIONAIRES and multi-millionaires are richer than ever, with a healthy sprinkling of South African names helping to boost their collective wealth by 13% from last year to £518.9bn – about one-third of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. This was revealed in the latest Sunday Times Rich List 2014, a report which ranks the 1 000 richest people in the UK.

Nicky Oppenheimer, 68, of De Beers fame, is listed among the UK’s top 20 billionaires, with his family’s fortune estimated at £4.57bn (about R80bn). At #18, he is apparently wealthier than the Queen of England, who comes in at 285 on this list, with an estimated £330m (R6bn) – £10m up on last year thanks to rising land and estate prices.

Also higher on the list than Queen Elizabeth II is South African-born Sir Donald Gordon, age 83, and family. Gordon was founder of assurer Liberty Life. According to the Sunday Times, Gordon and family rank 155, with stakes in property making up a considerable portion of the £650m (about R12bn) they are believed to have.

Douw Steyn, 61, and family also appear on the league of Britain’s richest ahead of Her Royal Highness, who is 88. The Sunday Times estimates that the “flamboyant tycoon”, whose 50th birthday bash included former presidents Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton on the guest list, is worth £600m (about R10bn).

Steyn added a whopping £50m to his wealth over the past year.  The Auto & General Insurance founder has enjoyed a good year through comparethemarket.com, which has been aggressively marketed through a television campaign featuring talking meerkat toys in the UK.

South African-born Manfred Gorvy, 76, and family come in at #330 on the list. He has an estimated £280m (R5bn) from businesses and property investments.

Internet entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth also puts in a showing. The 40-year-old hasn’t improved his fortunes much over the past year, however, with his assets coming to the same as last year £160m (about R2.7bn). He is slowly dropping down the list, coming in at around #571 with ex-Pink Floyd band member Roger Waters.

Shuttleworth, it seems, has become best-known for complaining about having to share some of his spoils with the South African authorities. All that the Sunday Times says of him is that he sold an internet security company for £400m “and had to pay £14m when transferring the £140m raised personally out of South Africa”. Shuttleworth reportedly lives on the tax-friendly Isle of Man.

The Sunday Times says it has compiled this list based on estimates of the minimum wealth of Britain’s 1 000 richest people or families. “The actual size of their fortunes may be much larger than our figure,” it says.

They measure “identifiable wealth”, which includes land, property, racehorses, art and significant shares in publicly quoted companies. Bank accounts and small shareholdings in private equity portfolios are excluded, it says.

People who may not be British citizens are included if they live and work in Britain as are people who have strong links with the UK, says the report.

How have these people made their money? Inheritance has helped, as is the case with the Oppenheimer dynasty. We all know that it usually takes money to make money.

But many individuals on the list have generated their wealth through entrepreneurship and business dealings, with the sale of successful businesses playing a major role in wealth building, note the report’s authors.

The Hinduja brothers, Sri and Gopi Hinduja.
The Hinduja brothers, Sri and Gopi Hinduja.

Meanwhile, the richest of the rich, according to the Sunday Times, are Sri and Gopi Hinduja with £11.9bn (about R210bn). These brothers are reportedly the Queen’s next-door-neighbours. They run the multinational Hinduja Group, which has interests in the automotive, banking, property and media sectors.

Next is Uzbek-born Alisher Usmanov, who controls Russia’s top three social networks and has mining and other interests. He is estimated to be worth £10.65bn.

Third-richest in Britain is steel industry magnate Lakshmi Mittal (and family) with £10.25bn. He is followed by Len Blavatnik, a Russian-born American citizen and private equity specialist, with about £10bn, and Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli with about £9.75bn – much of it from property investments. She is a former Miss UK.

Read more at biznews.com

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