Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 01:32 pm
The 2023 edition of the Sunday Times Rich List reveals significant fluctuations in the fortunes of the UK’s wealthiest individuals, with both entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak experiencing substantial declines in their wealth.
Sir Richard Branson saw his wealth plummet by over 40 percent in the past year, a staggering £1.79 billion decrease, attributed to significant losses incurred by his Virgin Group during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Similarly, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, witnessed a decrease of over £200 million in their personal fortune over the same period. This decrease was primarily due to the declining value of Akshata Murty’s stake in her father’s company, placing them at the 275th position on this year’s list.
The Sunday Times Rich List for 2023 ranks Gopi Hinduja and his family at the top with an estimated record fortune of £35 billion ($43.5 billion), followed by chemicals billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose wealth increased by more than £23.6 billion due to “new information about his finances,” according to the list’s compilers. Sir Leonard Blavatnik, David and Simon Reuben and family, Sir James Dyson and family, Lakshmi Mittal and family, the Weston family(primark), Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho, Kirsten and Jorn Rausing, and Michael Platt complete the list of the UK’s top ten richest individuals and families.
For Sir Richard Branson, the reduction in his net worth was more significant than previously indicated during a recent BBC interview, where he mentioned pandemic-related losses of around £1.5 billion. Last year, Sir Richard and his family were estimated to be worth approximately £4.2 billion, placing him 44th on the list. This year, he ranked 77th with a net worth of £2.41 billion.
Virgin Group, which encompasses Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Active, and Virgin Money, faced substantial challenges when the pandemic struck in early 2020. Sir Richard faced criticism for seeking a government commercial loan to sustain his airline during the pandemic’s height. Ultimately, Virgin Atlantic secured a £1.2 billion bailout from private funds, including £200 million from the wider Virgin Group. Recent setbacks for the Virgin empire include Virgin Orbit filing for bankruptcy and cutting 675 jobs following a failed rocket launch.
As for Mr. Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty, their combined wealth is now estimated at approximately £529 million, a decline from £730 million the previous year. Akshata Murty owns a small stake in Infosys, a $64 billion (£52 billion) Indian IT company co-founded by her billionaire father. However, the value of her stake has fallen by about a fifth over the past year, reflecting concerns about the future of the Indian technology sector.
The 2023 Rich List indicates that there are 171 billionaires in the UK, six fewer than the previous year. However, their combined wealth has increased by £30.7 billion to reach £683.9 billion. Compiler Robert Watts notes that this year’s list signals the end of a golden period for the super-rich in the UK, with fluctuations in fortunes driven by factors such as the bursting of the tech bubble, changing interest rates, and uncertainty in the banking industry. Watts emphasizes that financial losses for billionaires can have broader implications for society.
The top five wealthiest individuals in the UK are Gopi Hinduja, Sir James Ratcliffe, Sir Leonard Blavatnik, David and Simon Reuben, and Sir James Dyson, each with their unique stories of wealth accumulation and business success.