London, May 17 (PTI) Two sets of Indian-origin siblings dominate the annual tally of Britain's wealthiest as the Hinduja and Reuben brothers share the second spot with a fortune of 16 billion pounds each, while British inventor-entrepreneur James Dyson tops 'The Sunday Times Rich List 2020' with 16.2 billion pounds.
Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, who run the Hinduja Group of companies, lost 6 billion pounds to slip from the top slot in last year's list. Mumbai-born David and Simon Reuben lost 2.66 billion pounds over the past year, but their second position in the tally remains unchanged from 2019.
The coronavirus pandemic is seen as a major factor behind the fall in the overall wealth of the UK's richest people.
'Few people lost more money in the Indian stock market during the coronavirus-induced crash than the Hinduja brothers. One analysis suggested their listed businesses shed at least 67 per cent of their value in March before rallying last month,' notes the newspaper analysis.
'The share price has halved at their lorry-maker Ashok Leyland over the past year and fallen even more sharply at IndusInd, their Pune-based banking outfit, with the brothers trying to increase their holding while the stock remains cheap. Elsewhere, the oil price has plummeted into negative territory, hitting their oil and lubricants division Gulf, while its marine arm has also been laid low by the downturn in world trade,' it adds.
Dyson, in comparison, had a good year with rising sales for his products in China and other international markets adding 3.6 billion pounds to his fortunes, for him to emerge the richest on the list for the first time.
'With his family, Dyson now owns more land in England than the Queen, totalling more than 36,500 acres across Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset,' the report said.
The Reuben brothers are poised to take a 10 per cent stake in Premier League football club Newcastle United, which would mark a major investment for the duo who were born in India and grew up in London.
'Wary of debt and publicity, the brothers prefer to keep a large proportion of their wealth in cash and bonds. With combined business interests valued at 15 billion pounds, we add 1 billion pounds for their yachts, jets, private properties and cash,' said the analysis.
A fall in fortunes was also the overall picture for other Indian-origin billionaires in the UK's top 20, with mining major Anil Agarwal losing 2.07 billion pounds to come in at number 15 with an estimated fortune of 8.5 billion pounds and steel tycoon Lakshmi N Mittal losing 3.88 billion pounds to drop to number 19 with an estimated fortune of 6.78 billion pounds.
'The commodities market has been badly shaken by the COVID-19 outbreak — Agarwal has donated 10 million pounds to fight the disease in India — and falling share prices at Vedanta Limited and Anglo American lead us to cut his wealth, factoring in 800 million pounds for past dividends and other assets,' the report said.
And, in reference to Mittal, it adds: 'Already battered by the China-US trade war, lower steel prices and the higher cost of raw materials have set the share price sliding over the past year.' Overall, the wealth of the top 1,000 richest people in Britain fell for the first time since the financial crash, down by 3.7 per cent overall. The annual tally's compiler, Robert Watts, said it marks a reversal of the trend which saw Britain's wealthiest become richer and richer since the financial crisis.
'COVID-19 has called time on their golden period. This year's rich list paints a picture of Britain on the brink of calamity – two months after lockdown and already billions of pounds have been wiped out,' said Watts.
'You may not like the super-rich, but it is hard to deny that our economy will need the jobs they create and the taxes they and their companies pay if we are to escape a prolonged recession that causes further misery to millions,' he said.
The list also has a record 25 female billionaires this year, with the wealthiest woman being Kirsten Rausing, who owns a third of the holding company which has the rights to Tetra Pak cartons. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, the daughter of brewing magnate Freddy Heineken, also makes it into the top 10.
Queen Elizabeth II comes in at 372 with an estimated worth of 350 million pounds.
Beatle Sir Paul McCartney is the highest-placed musician with 800 million pounds, while singer Rihanna is a new entry with an estimated 468 million pounds. PTI AK MRJ AKJ MRJ