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Family businesses contribute less to UK fortunes

Billionaire Russians, commodity dealers and property magnates are pushing family business owners out of the list of the richest individuals in the UK, according to an analysis of the annual Sunday Times Rich List.

Billionaire Russians, commodity dealers and property magnates are pushing family business owners out of the list of the richest individuals in the UK, according to an analysis of the annual Sunday Times Rich List.

Out of the top 100 wealthiest individuals in the list, 40 were either owners of a family business or their fortune was connected to such a business. That compares to 53 individuals in last year’s list.

Nevertheless, five out of the top 10 wealthiest individuals and families were stewards of family business wealth, including Norwegian shipping magnate John Fredriksen, pharmaceuticals heirs Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli and Heineken heirs Charlene and Michel de Carvalho – coming in at sixth, ninth and 10th respectively.

Other prominent family business owners among the top 100 were Galen and George Weston of Associated British Foods with a fortune estimated at £6.6 billion (€7.7 billion); Sir Anthony Bamford of the JCB construction machinery group worth an estimated £3.1 billion; and the Grant and Gordon family behind the whisky empire worth £1.4 billion.

Newly minted commodity fortunes like Alisher Usmanov, the UK’s wealthiest individual with a fortune estimated at £13.3 billion, and the oil billionaire Jean Claude Gandur were more evident in this year’s list. With the value of London super-prime property continuing to rise, property fortunes were also prevalent within the top 100, with old aristocratic families like the Duke of Westminster’s and Earl of Cadogan’s doing particularly well. Interestingly, financial fortunes were less obvious than in previous years as the ongoing difficulties in the financial sector squeeze earnings.

Philip Beresford, the editor of the list, says the "transient rich" – individuals who keep their money in the UK but in reality spend very little time there – are crowding family businesses out of the top 100.

Beresford told CampdenFB: "Family businesses, as the government is belatedly recognising, are critical to wealth generation in the UK and are even more critical to job creation. The government is cutting public sector, big blue chips are forever downsizing, closing plants etcetera."

He added: "It is up to family and entrepreneurially-led companies to create new jobs. No one else is doing it. I wish I kept a log of how many jobs these guys were creating year-by-year but just from what I remember about 90% [of family businesses] are increasing their workforce every year, which is a wholly beneficial state of affairs."

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