Russian oligarchs may seem to be buying up London, but they face stiff competition from Britain’s ‘Bollygarchs.’
There are three times more Asian billionaires in this country than there were five years ago and the total wealth of the 101 richest Asians has risen by 14 per cent to £51.5 billion (Dh316 billion) over the past 12 months alone.
The latest Asian Rich List is topped by the Hinduja brothers, Gopichand and Srichand, who have added £1 billion to their wealth over the past year and are now worth an estimated £13.5 billion. Lakshmi Mittal, the boss of the steel giant ArcelorMittal, is second with £12 billion, also up £1 billion. They are among nine Asian billionaires on the list, up from three in 2010.
The scale of the Bollygarch boom can be seen at the bottom of the scale too: just to qualify for this year’s list, British-based Asians had to have amassed £55 million. When the list started 17 years ago, it took £5 million to qualify. Like the Russian oligarchs, Asian wealth is becoming increasingly conspicuous.
The highest new entry on the list is Sri Prakash Lohia, the plastics tycoon, in fourth position with £2 billion. He was labelled the Maharajah of Mayfair last year when he spent £50 million restoring a Georgian town house. The list also includes Tom Singh, who founded the New Look fashion chain; the artist Anish Kapoor, who designed the Olympic Orbit; the Labour politician Lord Paul; and Kishore Lulla, the executive chairman of Eros International, which distributes Bollywood films.
Among the few women to make the list is Meeta Patel, who runs Auden McKenzie, the pharmaceutical group, with her brother Amit. Lady Bracewell Smith is in 48th position owing to her stake in Arsenal Football Club, which she was given by her husband, Sir Charles Bracewell-Smith. The entries include refugees who have fled conflicts and started from scratch in Britain. Mike Jatania, who is 14th on the list and worth £500 million, escaped Idi Amin’s Uganda in the 1970s and built the Lornamead toiletries business with brands such as Simple soap and Vosene shampoo.
Shailesh Solanki, of Asian Media and Marketing, which compiles the list, said it was a snapshot of the changing fortunes of British Asians.
“If you look at the big waves of Asian immigration into Britain in the 1970s, many found it easiest to work in food and drink or retail — the stereotypical corner shops,” he said.
“Many then diversified and grew into pharmacies, wholesale and manufacturing, some of which are now the biggest in the country.” All the entries were honoured at a gala dinner in London last night, where Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, gave a speech.