UK rich list: Lakshmi Mittal on top

Britain’s wealthiest people saw their fortunes rise to record levels last year, according to the annual Sunday Times Rich List, at a time when most Britons‘ earnings and savings were squeezed by inflation and low interest rates.

Lakshmi Mittal retained his crown as Britain’s richest man despite losing almost a quarter of his wealth over the past year following a fall in the share value of his ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker.

The combined wealth of Britain’s 1,000 richest people swelled by almost five per cent to more than 414 billion pounds, the highest recorded by the 24-year-old survey, the Sunday Times newspaper said in an advance release on Saturday.

Some 77 members of the 2012 rich list were billionaires, two more than the previous record in 2008.

Their good fortune contrasted with the economic plight of many Britons who face five years of austerity aimed at wiping out a record budget deficit as the economy struggles to recover from the 2008 financial crisis.

The three top places in the list were dominated by foreign-born magnates with a base in Britain who earned their fortunes from resource-based industries such as minerals, steel and oil.

Indian-born Mittal saw his personal worth slide by 4.8 billion pounds to 12.7 billion pounds, but that was still enough to keep him narrowly on top of the list.

Uzbek-born billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who owns around 30 per cent of London soccer club Arsenal, was again in second place and close behind Mittal with a fortune of 12.3 billion pounds.

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