Mon, May 12, 2014 - Page 15 News List

With 72, London is billionaires’ haven

SUPER-RICH SURVEY:The world’s wealthiest share the British capital with a ‘shocking’ number of people who depend on food banks despite per capita GDP increases

AFP, LONDON

London has more billionaires than any other city in the world, and Britain has more billionaires per capita than any other country, new data showed on Saturday.

The survey of Britain’s super-rich compiled for the Sunday Times newspaper is likely to prompt debate in a country where many still struggle financially and where food banks are a fact of life, despite economic growth recently returning to levels not seen since the 2008 financial crash.

London is home to 72 of Britain’s 104 sterling billionaires, well ahead of Moscow in second place with 48 people worth the equivalent of £1 billion (US$1.68 billion) or more. New York is in third place with 43 billionaires, San Francisco in fourth place with 42, Los Angeles next with 38 and Hong Kong in sixth place with 34.

Indian-born brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja top the British list with a fortune of £11.9 billion, amassed through the family-owned Hinduja Group, which has interests in oil, banking, the automotive industry, property and the media.

The pair nudged last year’s list leader, Alisher Usmanov, to second place. The Uzbekistan-born Russian’s fortune has been hit by the fall in value of the ruble and Russian stock prices due to the Ukraine crisis.

Others in the top 25 include Ukrainian-born Internet, chemicals and music industry investor Len Blavatnik in fourth place, property magnate the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, in 10th place, and Saudi-born Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber and his family in 13th place.

This year is the first year the minimum wealth of Britain’s 50 richest people has topped £1.5 billion. Just £700 million was needed to join the exclusive club a decade ago.

Britain’s 104 billionaires have a total wealth of £301.13 billion, compared with 88 a year ago having a combined worth of £245.66 billion.

The combined wealth of Britain’s super-rich is now well ahead of pre-recession levels of 2008, which then totaled £201.99 billion.

On Friday independent think tank the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said British per capita GDP — often used to indicate a population’s average wealth — was “well below” the pre-2008 peak and unlikely to exceed it before 2017.

The Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest food bank network, said the number of people that had approached them for emergency food had risen 163 percent in the year to the end of March to just over 913,000 people.

The group labeled the figure “shocking,” particularly as it does not include those helped by other food providers or the large number of people too ashamed to seek help and who cope by eating less food.

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