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Britain's super-rich get even richer: list

May 08 2011 16:04 AFP

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London - Britain's richest people got collectively wealthier by 18% as the rest of the country weathered harsh government cuts, according to an annual list published Sunday.

Indian-born steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal retained the top spot in The Sunday Times Rich List for a seventh straight year, despite seeing about £5bn ($8bn, €5.7bn) wiped off his fortune.

The 1 000 richest people in Britain saw their wealth continue to bounce back from the recession and increase to a collective fortune of £395.8bn.

The number of billionaires in Britain now stands at 73 - up from 53 last year and almost matching the record of 75 set in the list of 2008 before the financial crisis. Forty are British-born.

Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov moved from sixth position to second spot in the list after adding £7.7bn to his fortune, which is now worth £12.4bn.

Usmanov owns a large stake in Russian iron and steel firm Metalloinvest and recently courted controversy in Britain by trying to build up a controlling stake in English football giants Arsenal.

His bid was thwarted last month when US sports tycoon Stan Kroenke took control of the Premier League side.

Meanwhile the fortune of Mittal, the London-based head of ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel maker, fell by around 22% to £17.5bn in the past 12 months, the biggest drop on this year's list.

The huge fall in the 60-year-old's wealth was driven by a plunge in the share price of ArcelorMittal as the global steel industry struggled to cope with costly raw materials and slow demand.

The highest new female entry is Chinese businesswoman Xiuli Hawken, 48, who made her fortune converting underground military shelters in China into underground shopping malls. She was ranked 61st, with a fortune of £1.06bn. She lives in London.

Another new female entry is Mary Perkins, who founded the chain of glasses shops, Specsavers, with her husband Douglas. Their wealth has increased 42% since last year and stands at £1.15bn.

The increased wealth comes as most of the country faces harsh austerity measures introduced by the coalition government to cut Britain's record deficit.

The list, which is for those who have Britain as their home or main base of operations, is based on identifiable wealth such as land, property or significant shares in publicly quoted companies, and excludes bank accounts.

- Britain's top 10 billionaires in The Sunday Times Rich List 2011 (last year's rank in brackets, figures in pounds):

1. Lakshmi Mittal - steel - £17.514bn (1st)

2. Alisher Usmanov - steel - R12.4bn (6th)

3. Roman Abramovich - oil, industry - R10.3bn (2nd)

4. The Duke of Westminster - property - R7bn (3rd)

5. Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli - pharmaceuticals - R6.87bn (4th)

6. Leonard Blavatnik - industry - R6.237bn (15th)

7. John Fredriksen and family - shipping - R6.2bn (16th)

8. David and Simon Reuben - property, Internet - R6.176bn (5th)

9. Gopi and Sri Hinduja - industry, finance - R6bn (new)

9. Galen and George Weston - retailing - R6bn (7th)

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