'Rich List' counts more than 100 UK billionaires

Sir Richard Branson Sir Richard Branson is worth £3.6bn according to the list

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The number of billionaires living in the UK has risen to more than 100 for the first time, according to the 2014 Sunday Times Rich List.

There are now 104 billionaires based in the UK with a combined wealth of more than £301bn, the list says.

That means the UK has more billionaires per head of population than any other country.

London has more billionaires than any other city in the world with 72 - far ahead of nearest rival Moscow with 48.

The Indian-born brothers Sri and Gopie Hinduja - who run the conglomerate Hinduja Group - top the list with a fortune of £11.9bn.

Arsenal shareholder and Russian business magnate Alisher Usmanov fell to second after his estimated fortune dropped to £10.65bn.

Analysis

The Sunday Times Rich List undermines the common argument that if you penalise the super-rich with higher taxes or close loopholes, they will leave, harming the economy as they remove their wealth.

That's because the rise in the number of billionaires to more than 100 comes in spite of a series of populist Budget measures which, in theory, would drive wealth creators away.

A large proportion of them will be "non-doms" who pay little or no income tax because, not being "domiciled" here (ie having another country to which they plan to return) they can claim exemption from tax on income earned from businesses overseas.

In 2012, non-doms were told they would have to pay a £50,000 fee, increased from £30,000, to keep their tax-privileged status if they had lived in the UK for more than 12 years. Warnings of wealthy people leaving abounded.

In fact since then the number of people willing to pay that fee has increased, from 3,500 to 6,000. That's because it is still easily worth paying £50,000 for what they will save in tax.

There is one group of super-wealthy investors though who would still be well-advised to stay away from the UK: those who fear they may soon get divorced. UK family law means their departing spouses will have a much greater chance of taking a large chunk of their wealth in the UK than elsewhere.

Rising fortunes

The number of billionaires living in the UK has jumped from 88 in 2013, according to the Sunday Times.

Their combined wealth has also reportedly shot up from £245bn last year.

It is the first time since 2008 that the minimum wealth of the 50 richest people in the UK has exceeded £1.5bn.

A fortune of £1.7bn is now required to make the top 50 - up from £700m 10 years ago.

New members of the list include West End producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who is now worth £1bn, and Jon Hunt, the founder of estate agents Foxtons who is worth £1.07bn.

The wealthiest new entry is Carrie and Francois Perrodo and their family, who own the London-based Perenco oil and gas operation and are worth an estimated £6.14bn.

Philip Beresford, who compiles the list, told the BBC "culture, financial services, nice tax regime, good education for their kids and a nice lifestyle where they meet their friends" were among the reasons billionaires were attracted to the UK.

BBC financial correspondent Andrew Verity said the increase in the number of billionaires on the list undermined the argument that making them pay more tax would drive them away.

This included efforts to impose capital gains tax (CGT) on property owned by foreigners who are not resident in the UK, said our correspondent.

Rich List author Philip Beresford explains why the super rich love London

In spite of the fact that many of Britain's richest people are "domiciled" abroad for tax purposes, many of the UK's 123,000 "non-doms" were resident here and so the measure did not apply to them, he added.

Other notable figures on the list include Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich (£8.52bn), Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley (£3.75bn) and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson (£3.6bn).

Plymouth-born Chris Dawson, who owns and runs The Range discount store chain, saw his fortune rise by £695m in the past 12 months to net £1.28bn.

The full Sunday Times Rich List is published on 18 May.

Top 25
  1. Sri and Gopi Hinduja, £11.9bn, up £1.3bn
  2. Alisher Usmanov, £10.65bn, down £2.65bn
  3. Lakshmi Mittal and family, £10.25bn, up £250m
  4. Len Blavatnik, £10bn, down £1bn
  5. Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli, £9.75bn, up £2.35bn
  6. John Fredriksen and family, £9.25bn, up £450m
  7. David and Simon Reuben, £9bn, up £719m
  8. Kirsten and Jorn Rausing, £8.8bn, up £3.69bn
  9. Roman Abramovich, £8.52bn, down £780m
  10. The Duke of Westminster, £8.5bn, up £700m
  11. Galen, Hilary and George Weston and family, £7.3bn, up £650m
  12. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho, £6.36bn, down £635m
  13. Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber and family, £6.16bn, up £1.65bn
  14. Carrie and Francois Perrodo and family, £6.14bn, new
  15. German Khan, £6.08bn, new
  16. Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, £6bn, up £3.65bn
  17. Hans Rausing and family £5.9bn, up £1.18bn
  18. Nicky Oppenheimer and family, £4.57bn, up £785m
  19. Earl Cadogan and family, £4.2bn, up £525m
  20. Joseph Lau and family, £4.03bn, down £570m
  21. Sir Philip and Lady Green £3.88bn, no change
  22. Denis O'Brien, £3.85bn, up £486m
  23. Mike Ashley, £3.75bn, up £1.45bn
  24. Sir Richard Branson and family, £3.6bn, up £86m
  25. Idan Ofer, £3.43bn, new

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