Rich list: UK billionaires thrive despite credit crisis

29 April 2008 / by Joy Tibbs
According to the 2008 Sunday Times Rich List, Britain's super wealthy are getting richer, despite increasing turmoil in the world's financial markets.

Collectively, UK billionaires were £53 billion better off this year than at the time of last year's list.

While most families across the country struggle to cope as a result of the rising cost of living, tighter lending conditions and higher mortgage costs, the top 1,000 richest people in the UK actually prospered. Collectively worth £412.8 billion, their overall wealth rose 14.7 per cent compared with 2007 figures. And collective wealth among the top 1,000 has risen 317 per cent since 2007.

Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal topped the list, followed by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich in second and the Duke of Westminster in third. Mr Mittal's wealth has risen by 44 per cent since last year to £27.7 billion, while Mr Abramovich's riches rose by £1.1 billion to £10.8 billion.

Seven of the top ten were foreign-born business people, as were 40 of the country's 75 billionaires, with India, Russia and Israel among the nations represented. The largest sectors represented in the list were property developers and landowners, who accounted for 231 of the top 1,000.

Despite the overall climb amongst the country's billionaires, some of those included in this year's Rich List have experienced a decline in their financial positions. Virgin boss Richard Branson's fortune dropped £400 million to £2.7 billion, and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and family's wealth fell to £812 million compared with £1.29 billion last year.

Meanwhile, the rest of the nation continues to struggle in the face of higher fuel, energy and food prices, turbulence in the mortgage markets and rising inflation. The number of repossessions has increased and, despite three Bank of England rate cuts since December 2007, many providers have raised mortgage rates in recent months.

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