Unpicking The Sunday Times Rich List

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As electricity bills almost double and stories of UK citizens struggling with rising prices, conversely, the nation has seen a massive upturn in the country’s billionaires. 

The usual suspects of The Sunday Times Rich List are all present and correct  with textile heavyweights Sri and Gopi Hinduja topping the list with a £28.472bn fortune, knocking philanthropist Sir Leonard Blavatnik from the top spot, down £3bn in net worth.  

First published in 1989, the Sunday Times Rich List is an annual rundown of the 250 richest people or families in the UK, ranked by net wealth. 

Guillaume Pousaz, CEO and founder of payment cloud solution payments platform checkout.com is this year’s highest climber, seeing a £13.716bn rise in his fortunes. 

In the nether regions of the monetary index, Roman Abramovich fell 20 places with a dramatic dip of £6.101bn in net wealth. As the biggest loser on the list, Abramovich was joined by fellow oligarchs Denis Sverdlov, down by £4.776bn, and Alisher Usmanov losing £3.406bn of net wealth because of government sanctions against wealthy Russians due to the devastation inflicted upon Ukraine.    

Property constitutes the largest industry of The Sunday Times cash catalogue, constituting over 37 of the 250 entries. Many property magnates also supplement their income with ventures as diverse as gambling services, football, media, and food.     

The finance sector is well represented with a total of 22 entries. Wise founders who promise customers ‘lower fees than old-school banks’, Kristo Kaarmann and Taavet Hinrikus are new entries on the list followed by decentralised banking pioneer, Revolut CEO Nik Storonsky, seeing a £4.2bn jump in fortune. 

The ubiquitous entry of Hedge fund managers constitute a total of 14 listings.

The online gambling industry also witnessed a considerable spike in earnings. PokerStars CEO Mark Scheinberg is sitting pretty with a £407m increase in fortune, augmented by the entrepreneur’s luxury hospitality ventures through his real estate investment vehicle, Mohari. Scheinberg also tops his coffer with a stake in the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, a stately Madrid Hotel, and a luxury resort in Costa Rica. 

Salfordians Fred and Peter Done of Betfred fame climbed £241m, aided by a successful £97.7m VAT cashback claim from HMRC on the tax paid on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) between 2005 and 2013. Betfred accounts also benefited from investments to the tune of £94.3m occurring “from a fair value gain of the group’s investment in shares listed on the London Stock Exchange”.

As the notoriously reclusive Denise Coates lives in a Xanadu-style estate complete with yachting lake described as a space-age super home, the family who famously started bet365 in a Portacabin sat in a Stoke-on-Trent car park surged £189m in assets. The family members sit at number 17 on The Sunday Times Rich List. To this day, Denise Coates remains the highest-paid female businessperson on the planet.   

Ruth Parasol and family, owners of Bwin saw no change in fortune and sit at £780m net worth. Founder of PartyGaming, Gibraltar resident and San Francisco native Ruth Monicka Parasol was ranked 15th of the world’s wealthiest self-made women, as published by The Economist in 2010. 

As well as boasting a London property portfolio of top-class shopfronts, fancy hotels, and apartments with high-end price tags, London tycoons Ian and Richard Livingstone placed at 31 on the list, seeing a £400m drop in earnings from the previous year. The Livingstone brothers’ stake in Evolution AB, providers of live casino games across the iGaming industry was negatively affected by a $3 billion loss in market value in November 2021.

The substantial decrease in value occurred when a US law firm accused Evolution AB of operating in Iran, a violation of US sanctions, just as Evolution AB was moving into the nascent US online gambling market. 

The growth in iGaming magnates’ fortunes (fraternal moguls excluded) is potentially down to the recent boom in online gambling, aided in part by the US loosening online gambling restrictions. With the online gambling market looking to exceed $90bn by 2023, there seems to be no stopping the runaway iGaming market. Online slots in particular are seeing a surge in popularity, indicating that advancement in technology, in particular mobile gaming, is paying dividends across the industry. 

The greatest insight provided by The Sunday Times Rich List is that the UK now has a record number of billionaires, with a total wealth jump of almost £60bn from last year. With the total number of billionaires now totalling 177, it’s up by six from the previous year. 

Contentiously, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his wife enter the list at 222 with a total net wealth of £730m. For a government salary of £151,649, it’s clear that Sunak’s history as a hedge fund partner is the fundamental reason behind him being one of the richest frontline MPs in parliament.

According to the list published by The Sunday Times, the 250 richest people in the UK are worth £710.72bn, compared to £658.09bn in 2021 – an 8% rise from the previous year.

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