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U.K.’s Richest Increase Wealth by 30%, Sunday Times Says

Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of ArcelorMittal
Lakshmi Mittal, president and chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal, listens during the company's earnings news conference in Luxembourg, on Feb. 11, 2009. Photographer: Wolfgang von Brauchitsch/Bloomberg

April 25 (Bloomberg) -- The fortunes of the richest people in the U.K. rose at a record pace last year, with the 1,000 wealthiest experiencing a 30 percent increase in their net worth, according to the annual Sunday Times Rich List.

Lakshmi Mittal, the 59-year-old chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, topped the list for the sixth straight year. His fortune doubled to 22.5 billion pounds ($34.6 billion) as the recovering economy bolstered orders from automakers and builders, according to the Rich List, published today. Roman Abramovich, 43, the Russian-born billionaire, remained in second place after adding 400 million pounds to his net worth.

The cumulative wealth of the U.K.’s richest people rose to 333.5 billion pounds ($512.8 billion) during the year. The total fell short of the record 413 billion pounds reached in 2008, according to the rankings compiled each year by Philip Beresford. None of the top 10 lost money during the year, while the number of billionaires on the list rose 10 to 53.

The list has been compiled for the past 22 years and is based on identifiable wealth, including property, art, racehorses and shares in publicly-held companies. It excludes bank account balances.

The 30 percent increase in combined wealth in the last year is “easily the biggest annual rise” in the history of the list, Beresford said in an e-mailed statement.

The year before, the net worth of those on the list had plunged 37 percent, in the depths of the global financial crisis

Joseph Lau, Duke of Westminster

The highest new entry was Joseph Lau, the 58-year-old chairman and CEO of Hong Kong-based Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd., who took the 12th spot. Lau, with a fortune calculated at 3.8 billion pounds, recently paid 33 million for a house in London’s Eaton Square.

The Duke of Westminster, the highest-placed British-born billionaire, remained in third place. His ancestral land holdings in central London are among the most expensive properties in the nation and helped boost his net worth by 4 percent. It was the smallest gain seen among the wealthiest 10 people in the U.K. The Queen, 84, ranked 245 with a fortune of 290 million pounds.

New to the 10-top list were Alisher Usmanov, who made his money in steel and mines, Galen and George Weston, whose wealth from retailing was combined this year, and Indian-born Anil Agarwal, who had an increase of 583 percent in his fortune thanks to the skyrocketing price of his London-based mining group Vedanta Resources Holdings Ltd.

ArcelorMittal

Falling from the top 10 were Hans Rausing and family, whose fortune is in packaging; Sammy and Eyal Ofer, and John Fredriksen in the shipping industry; Joe Lewis in investments; and Kirsten and Jorn Rausing in inheritance.

Mittal holds a 41 percent stake in Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, which he formed through the takeover of Arcelor SA by Mittal Steel Co. in 2006. The stock surged 89 percent in 2009 as it boosted output of the metal as the world economy recovered and automakers and builders increased orders.

The steel industry is recovering faster and stronger than expected, the World Steel Association said April 20. The group, whose members include nineteen of the world’s 20 top steelmakers, forecast that steel consumption will increase 10.7 percent this year. European hot-rolled coil, a benchmark product used in cars and appliances, increased 41 percent in the first quarter as raw material prices surged, according to Metal Bulletin data.

Abramovich

Abramovich, owner of the Chelsea football club, accrued his wealth after the fall of the Soviet Union by building up Russia’s fifth-largest oil producer. His oil business, OAO Sibneft, was bought by OAO Gazprom in 2005 as then-President Vladimir Putin moved to return the country’s oil wealth into state hands.

The billionaire, once Russia’s richest man according to Forbes, has since bought into metal producers. Millhouse LLC, which manages his assets, has stakes in Evraz Group SA, Russia’s second-largest steelmaker, and Highland Gold Mining Ltd.

Britain’s 10 Largest Fortunes (in billions of pounds)

1. Lakshmi Mittal and Family       Steel          22.5
2. Roman Abramovich                Oil             7.4
3. The Duke of Westminster         Property        6.8
4. Ernesto and Kitty Bertarelli    Pharma          6.0
5. David and Simon Reuben          Property        5.5
6. Alisher Usmanov                 Steel, Mines    4.7
7. Galen and George Weston         Retail          4.5
8. Charlene, Michel de Carvalho    Inheritance     4.4
9. Philip Green and wife           Retailing       4.1
10. Anil Agarwal                   Mining          4.1

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Fay Cortez in London at mcortez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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