London’s richest: the top five

Did the recession really happen? Not if the fortunes of the Londoners who bagged top spots in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List are anything to go by

London #1: Lakshmi Mittal

UK rank: 1
Wealth: £17.51bn
Sector: steel

According to Mittal, it took a 45-second conversation with the Mayor of London – who he chanced upon in the loo at Davos – to persuade him to invest £22m in what will symbolize the London Olympics Games 2012, and become Britain’s largest sculpture, The Arcelor Mittal Orbit.

One can only imagine how deep his pockets are.

The steel czar, who grew up in a modest house in India with no running water and electricity, came to London 18 years ago to establish his steel empire. He now owns three houses in Kensington Gardens’ billionaire’s row.

Popularly known as the ‘Taj Mittal’, his main residence in Kensington Palace Gardens is festooned with marble taken from the same quarry that supplied the Taj Mahal. The house has 12 bedrooms, an indoor pool, Turkish baths and parking for 20 cars. He bought the dazzling pile from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone for £57m.

In May 2008, Mittal spent £117m to buy 6 Palace Greens, formerly owned by financier Noam Gottesman, for his son Aditya Mittal. He barely waited for the ink to dry on this purchase before snapping up 9a Palace Greens, the erstwhile Filipino embassy, for his daughter Vanisha Mittal Bhatia for £70m the very next month.

Another jewel in his crown is a 20 per cent stake in West London’s Queens Park Rangers football club, which is managed by Amit Bhatia, his son-in-law.  

With the fastest growing fortune in the UK – worth £17,514m and counting – Mittal has topped the Sunday Times Rich List seven years in a row.

London #2: Roman Abromovich

UK rank: 3
Wealth: £10.30bn
Sector: Oil and industry

Would you believe that this Londoner with a bottomless bank account started his career by selling plastic ducks? A mere glance at the list of assets of this 45-year old will make your eyeballs pop.

He owns the world’s biggest private yacht. It features two helipads, a luxury spa and a swimming pool, and is worth £300m.

He hired Black Eyed Peas to entertain guests invited to his £5m New Year party in the Caribbean earlier this year.

He’s got 100 per cent ownership of Lowndes Square Management Company Limited, Croe France Chateau de la Croe, Eucla Investments Limited, Wotton Overseas Holdings Limited and Camberley International Investments Limited.

And - of course! - he owns Chelsea Football Club. He is living in Chelsea until he converts nine flats in Knightsbridge to create a lavish new 30,000 sq ft home for himself.

London #3: Leonard Blavatnik

UK rank: 6
Wealth: £6.24bn
Sector: multiple industries

Having recently bought Warner Music for $3.3bn, Leonard Blavatnik is the world’s newest music mogul. From owning chemical companies to donating £75m to Oxford University, this Londoner has his finger in many expensive pies.

Blavatnik’s life might be a roller-coaster rags-to-riches story but he always knew where to put his money. After emigrating broke from Russia to America at the age of 21, he founded Access Industries, which deals in everything from chemicals to media and telecommunications, in 1986. Then with Columbia University classmate Viktor Vekselberg, he formed the Renova investment vehicle in 1990. The two later joined forces with Mikhail Fridman’s financial-industrial company Alfa Group to form the AAR venture.

In 2003, AAR acquired a stake in the Russian oil company TNK and sold 50 per cent stake of their entire business to British Petroleum to form TNK-BP, one of Russia’s largest oil companies.

Blavatnik struck a deal to buy Lyondell chemicals for $12.7bn in 2007. The company buckled into bankruptcy but rebounded in April 2010.

He is also the director of Russian oil firm TNK and aluminium giant Rusal. In 2009, he bought the UK arm of Mel Gibson’s film distribution business-Icon Productions.Known to be an arts and culture aficionado, Blavatnik serves as the primary benefactor for the British Museum, Tate Modern, Royal Opera House, National Portrait Gallery and Museum of Modern Art.

A neighbour to Laxmi Mittal, Blavatnik paid £41m to outbid Roman Abramovich for a house on Kensington Palace Gardens.

London #4: John Fredriksen and family

UK rank: 7
Wealth: £6.20bn
Sector: shipping

When Katherine Fredrikson broke her leg, she hopped around with Swarovski-studded crutches. And why not? Her father, John Fredriksen, is the third richest man in London and the richest in Norway.  

The Fredrikson family might have homes in Marbella, Oslo and Cyprus, but they just can’t stay away from London for too long. Fredriksen’s wealth of £6,200m is attributed to businesses including Frontline, the biggest tanker operator in the world, Arcadia Petroleum and Seawell.

With his daughters Katherine and Cecilie neck-deep in the business, Fredriksen’s stakes in five other companies quoted on the Oslo, German and New York exchanges are worth £5bn. A notoriously relentless globetrotter, this Norwegian businessman took citizenship in Cyprus but has a 30,000 square foot house in London’s Chelsea.

London #5: David and Simon Reuben

UK rank: 8
Wealth: £6.18bn      
Sector: property, internet

How often do we hear of a £6,176m empire built just out of scrap metal? The Reuben brothers did just that. Known to be very private, David, 72, and Simon, 69, are London property honchos and financiers. Global Switch, their data centre company, has a value of more than £3bn and is expected to generate profits worth £175m this financial year. 

Born in Mumbai, the duo came to London where Simon went into property and David started trading in scrap metal. The brothers then went on to be labelled the ‘metal czars’ after they made a fortune of at least £1.3bn each in the Russian aluminium industry. The duo are also helping to transform London’s landscape – recently redeveloping the Paddington Basin, for example. They also own the Connaught House on Berkeley Square, the John Lewis headquarters in Victoria and a number of properties on Sloane Street.

But Knightsbridge is where Simon calls home, five minutes away from David in Holland Park.

You’re dying to know who London #6 is, right? Here you go…

London #6: Charlene and Michel de Carvalho

UK rank: 11
Wealth: £5.4bn
Sectors: brewing, banking

You might not have heard of Charlene de Carvalho the ‘Queen of brewing’, but she’s the one to thank for your Heineken. Daughter of the Dutch beer magnate, the late Freddy Heineken, Charlene, 56, has a fortune worth £5,400m in her kitty and shares of Heineken have been consistently rising since last year.

She is, however, a low-profile Londoner who lives near Harrods in Knightsbridge with her banker husband, Michel, 66. 

Now the vice-chairman of the US banking giant Citigroup, Michel appeared a child actor in David Lean’s 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia.

The family have just a minority stake of £5.1bn in the business but retain control of the firm through a complex voting structure -proving that brewing is in their blood.

Rankings and wealth figures from the Sunday Times’ Rich List


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