Mittal's fortune falls but still Britain's biggest

7th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Indian-born steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has seen his fortune fall by some £5 billion ($8 billion, 5.7 billion euros) in the past year but remains the wealthiest person in Britain, it was revealed Saturday.

The fortune of the London-based head of ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel maker, fell by around 22 percent to £17.5 billion in the past 12 months, according to an annual rich list compiled by The Sunday Times newspaper.

The drop in his wealth was caused by a fall in the share price of ArcelorMittal.

Mittal's fortunes were markedly different from the rest of Britain's wealthiest, with the 1,000 richest people seeing their wealth continue to bounce back from the recession and increase by 18 percent to £395.8 billion.

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 of the billionaires are British-born.

Despite the drop in the wealth of Mittal, chief executive and chairman of ArcelorMittal, he hung on to his place at the top of the list, a position he has enjoyed for the past few years.

In second place is another steel magnate, Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov, who moved six positions up the list after adding £7.7 billion to his fortune.

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

But his bid was thwarted last month when US sports tycoon Stan Kroenke took a controlling stake in the Premier League side. Usmanov's holding company still owns a significant stake in Arsenal.

The highest new female entry is Chinese buinesswoman Xiuli Hawken, 48, who made he fortune converting underground military shelters in China into underground shopping malls. She lives in London.

This year's list saw the arrival of the first self-made billionairess. Mary Perkins, and her husband Douglas, founded the value-for-money chain of glasses shops, Specsavers, which is now one of Britain's biggest opticians.

Their wealth has increased 42 percent since last year and stands at £1.15 billion.

The list is based on identifiable wealth such as land, property or significant shares in publicly quoted companies, and excludes bank accounts.

© 2011 AFP

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