Sunday, April 25, 2010

L N Mittal tops Rich List for sixth year in a row

S Kalyana Ramanathan / London April 26, 2010

Lakshmi Mittal, the India-born CEO of steel maker ArcelorMittal, has for the sixth year in a row, topped the list of Britain’s 1,000 richest people, according to The Sunday Times published today.

With the steel sector rebounding earlier this year, Mittal’s wealth according to this list of the UK’s rich and the powerful, doubled from 2009-levels to £22.45 billion. Mittal, who has been holding the number one rank since 2005, saw his wealth erode to the lowest level in 2009, when he continued to hold the first place but with wealth estimated at £10.8 billion.

The other Indian who made it to the top ten in this list was mining entrepreneur Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Resources, who zipped all the way from the 70th rank in the 2009 list to the number 10 position this year. Agarwal’s wealth in 2010 was estimated at £4.1 billion and rose the sharpest in the top 10, with a jump of 583 per cent over 2009. Mittal’s wealth rose by 108 per cent over 2009 estimates. Both Mittal and Agarwal continue to hold an Indian passport, despite shifting permanent residence to the UK.

Philip Beresford, compiler of the Rich List, in his lead article introducing this year’s list wrote, “Fortunes in Britain are soaring as the world recovers from the 2008-09 crash. Stock markets are up, the banks are back from the brink and economic confidence is blossoming. As a result, the collective wealth of the 1,000 multimillionaires in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List has climbed to £335.5 billion, up £77.27 billion on 2009. This is a 29.9 per cent increase, easily the biggest annual rise in the 22 years of the Rich List.”

The list released today also comes just 11 days before Britain goes to polls to elect its next government that is fiercely fought between the ruling Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats, which is now seen as the second most popular party (ahead of Labour) by many opinion polls. Beresford also took a dig at the popular belief that the Labour party is pro-poor and pro-working class and said, “The first decade of new Labour was in fact a golden age for the rich in Britain.

When the Blair administration came to power in 1997, the wealth of the then richest 1,000 stood at £98.99 billion. By 2008, it had risen to nearly £413 billion. After a savage bust in 2009 it is clearly heading northwards. This year’s £335.5 billion is nearly 239 per cent higher than in 1997.”

The Rich List is based on the publisher’s estimates of the minimum wealth of Britain’s 1,000 richest people or families.

Therefore, the paper also cautions that the actual size of their fortunes may be much larger than what it has estimated. Valuation were carried out at the beginning of January 2010. Only identifiable wealth are measured — land, property, racehorses, art or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. It does not include bank account (as this detail remains out of access for general public) and small shareholdings in private equity portfolios.

Not so generous?

Neither Lakshmi Mittal nor Anil Agarwal made it to the top 50 in The Sunday Times Giving List — a compilation of the most generous philanthropists in the UK. This list was topped by Christopher Cooper-Hohn, a London hedge fund manager whose recent donations are estimated at £531.2 million. It must, however, be remembered that not all generous gestures are necessarily recorded publicly or even those recorded publicly may be considered in this list. For example, Lakshmi Mittal’s company gave away nearly £16 million worth of steel for the ArcelorMittal Orbit — a public piece of art — to commemorate the 2012 London Olympics. Similarly, Anil Agarwal will be spending $1 billion in building the Vedanta University in Orissa.

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