UK billionaires go richer among Brexit and political uncertainties

Thursday 16th May 2019 04:26 EDT

While the Indian-origin Hinduja brothers dominate the annual Rich List of Britain's wealthiest by The Sunday Times, UK's super-rich are preparing to leave the country, taking upto £1 trillion with them, amid fears that Jeremy Corbyn may become the next Prime Minister.

Despite a turbulent year, given the Brexit uncertainties and political turmoil, Britain's 1000 richest individuals have a wealth of £771.3bn, up by £47.8bn from last year. There are 151 billionaires in the UK now, and the 'benchmark' for super-rich has increased from £5mn to £120mn this year. There are over 65 British South Asians listed in The Sunday Times Richlist.

Hinduja brothers top the list

Among Britain richest 1000, Indian-origin Hinduja brothers, with a fortune of £22bn have ranked first, followed by Mumbai born Reuben brothers on number two with £18.66bn. Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, who run the Hinduja Group of companies, has had a £1.35bn jump in their fortunes from the previous year. This has restored their position back on the top, same as from 2014-17.

Speaking in an interview, G P Hinduja, told the newspaper, that whether or not Britain leaves EU, he is convinced that “it can forge a closer relationship with the family's homeland.”

Their business empire was founded in 1914 by father Parmanand Hinduja in Mumbai. They now have stakes in many industries including oil and gas, IT, energy, media, banking, property and healthcare. In 2014 they acquired former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's old War Office in Whitehall for £350mn and plan to open it in 2020 as a luxury hotel with the Raffles group.

Mumbai-born brothers David, 80, and Simon, 77, have been on a 'buying spree', taking hold of £1bn of London property in 2018. The siblings 'snapped up' Mayfair's £300mn Burlington Arcade, Shoreditch's Curtain hotel and a £132mn block in Piccadilly. The brothers, who were ranked fourth last year, saw a £3.56bn jump in their fortune in one year.

Indian-origin billionaire, Lakshmi N Mittal, suffered £3.99 bn in losses and has moved to No 11 this year, from No. 5 in 2018. Mittal is followed on the list by Indian mining magnate Anil Agarwal, who registered a £8.72 bn increase in his fortunes and is ranked as 12th.

Other prominent super-rich

Other prominent super-rich who improved their fortunes in the 2019 analysis includes around 45 Indian-origin business giants, including textiles and plastics industrialist Sri Prakash Lohia with a £243mn increase in earnings to position 26 with a fortune of £5.4bn.

At number 42, we have Sir Anwar Pervez and family with a wealth of £3.53bn, up by £439mn. A £7m deal last year added Bargain Booze, Wine Rack, WS Retail and Select Conveniences to Bestway’s London-based cash-and-carry and pharmacy operation. Pervez, 84, emigrated from Pakistan aged 21 and worked as a bus conductor, starting Bestway in 1976.

On number 63 are Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora with a fortune of £2.26bn. The Arora brothers have built the Merseyside discount retailer B&M into a £3.86bn stockmarket giant after taking control of their father’s ailing 21-store cash-and-carry chain in 2004.

Lord Swraj Paul logged a £500mn hike in his fortune to jump up from 90th in 2018 to 69th this year, with an estimated fortune of £2bn.

At number 82 is Zameer Choudrey and family, whose fortune is up by £548mn to £1.755bn. In 2018 they ranked 113. Choudrey, 61, is the nephew of Bestway founder Sir Anwar Pervez, and as chief executive since 2004 has taken the London-based cash-and-carry and pharmacy operation multinational. A pro-Brexit Tory donor, Choudrey has a 29.98% family stake worth about £1.72bn and other assets.

At number 84 is Navin and Varsha Engineer, whose fortune is up by £290mn to £1.7bn. Surrey-based Chemidex holds the rights to drugs used to treat insomnia, bipolar disorder, severe anxiety and other ailments. Engineer, 68 this month, and his wife Varsha, 64, own and run the £1.6bn pharmaceuticals group. They were ranked 96 last year.

On no 112 is Tony Matharu and family with £1.32bn, they sold four central London hotels with 1,300 rooms between them in a near-£1bn deal in March. They still have 12 hotels in London and one in Bracknell in the Grange Hotels chain they founded in 1980.

On 125 is Mohsin and Zuber Issa brothers, whose father came to the uk from Gujarat. The Issa brothers, raised in Blackburn, opened their first petrol station in 2001 and now have more than 5,000 forecourts after two big acquisitions in America and Australia last year.

At 136 is Surinder Arora and family with £1.12bn. Arora wants to build the new sixth terminal at Heathrow, insisting he will do it for £14bn, or half the cost that would be racked up by Heathrow Airports. He lives with his wife, Sunita, in Wentworth, Surrey. The couple have three adult children: Sapna, Sonia and Sanjay.

At 138 is Jasminder Singh and family at £1.1bn. Singh, 68, launched his hospitality empire in 1977 and it now operates 11 Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels in London and the five-star May Fair. He plans to open his 13th establishment next year, to be called the Londoner, in the capital’s Leicester Square.

At 174 we have Pharmaceutical tycoons Vijay and Bhikhu Patel with a wealth of £800mn. At 218 we have Jatania brothers at £643mn. Mike Jatania, 54, is chairman of the fast-growing UK fashion brand Needle Thread, whose sequins-and-lace dresses have sparkled on Dame Helen Mirren, Sarah Jessica Parker, Drew Barrymore and Helena Christensen since its launch in 2013. At 219 we have food entrepreneur Ranjit and Baljinder Boparan with £640mn.

At 399 there is Bhupendra Kansagra with £320mn. Oil, agriculture, horticulture, mineral processing, hospitality and property are among the diverse interests of the family led by Kansagra, 63 later this month. There are a few other on the list with similar achievements.

New Entries

There were a few new Indian-origin entries to this year's list, including Sunil Vaswani who has interests in transport and food industries. Ranked 75. India-born Vaswani clocked a fortune of £1.9bn via his frozen food and car-making empire working alongside brothers Mahesh and Haresh. At 775 we have Suneil Setiya with £152mn. Quadrature Capital is a small investment manager that uses cutting-edge technologies and complex algorithms for financial trading. Another new entry is at 972 Lord Dolar Popat, who runs care homes and hotels in the UK. Described as the first Tory of Gujarati descent in the House of Lords, the 65 year old peer is credited with building up TLC Group from just £10 when he arrived in the UK at the age of 17, after being expelled by Idi Amin's regime in Uganda.

Technology and AI are seen as 'making and breaking' fortunes in this year's list, with young entrepreneurs making huge amount of money from online fashion retail, dating apps and creating YouTube videos. The wealthiest woman in Britain is Sigrid Rausing, granddaughter of the man who invented the Tetra Pak packaging fortune. She is reportedly worth 12.2 billion pounds and ranked sixth. Zimbabwe-born Valerie Moran becomes the first black female entrepreneur ever to make the annual rich list, with a fortune of 122 million pounds from her financial technology business. However there are no Asians in the giving away list, making the community's 'less fortunate' less supported by its own.

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