London still boasts largest number of billionaires but many tycoons lost billions

City workers walking towards St Paul's Cathedral as they cross the Millennium footbridge during sunrise in central London, Britain, on Jan 14, 2016.
City workers walking towards St Paul's Cathedral as they cross the Millennium footbridge during sunrise in central London, Britain, on Jan 14, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (GUARDIAN, AFP) - London has more billionaires - measured in pounds sterling - than any other city in the world, according to The Sunday Times newspaper's Rich List 2016.

But the number of billionaires living in Britain rose at its slowest pace since the financial crisis, as some of the country's richest people saw their fortunes plummet.

Publicity-shy brothers David and Simon Reuben topped the list this year, with a fortune of £13.1 billion, up £3.4 billion on last year.

Simon Reuben, left, and his brother David. PHOTO: FORBES/ COURTESY OF THE REUBEN BROTHERS

The Reubens, born in Mumbai to an Iraqi Jewish family, made their first fortune purchasing Russian aluminium before buying up large tracts of London's landmark buildings and data centre operator Global Switch.

They are just ahead of the industrialist brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja with £13 billion, a figure unchanged from last year. They overtook last year's richest man, the Warner Music Group owner, Len Blavatnik. The tycoon, born in Odessa, Ukraine, fell two places to third as his wealth slumped by £1.6 billion to £11.6 billion.

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and family, who in 2008 boasted a £27.7 billion fortune that outstripped any in British history, saw his wealth decline by £2 billion last year to £7.1 billion.

Mr Lakshmi Mittal. PHOTO: FORBES

Mr Mittal's wealth was affected by the ongoing crisis in the steel industry, which has claimed more than 5,000 jobs in Britain alone over the past year.

The Chelsea FC owner, Roman Abramovich, who made his fortune through his Russian oil business Sibneft, witnessed his worth fall by £890 million to £6.4 billion.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley, who has been rocked by a Guardian investigation into working conditions in his retail empire, was among the biggest losers, as his personal pot shrank by £1.1 billion to £2.4 billion.

Fellow retail tycoon Philip Green suffered a £280 million decline to £3.2 billion after a year in which he sold the BHS high street chain for £1, only to watch it plummet towards an administration process likely to begin on Monday (April 25).

The single biggest loss of wealth affected Carrie and François Perrodo and family, whose value is built on Franco-British oil firm Perenco.

Their combined assets tumbled £2.45 billion to £3.35 billion amid persistently low oil prices.

Hefty losses among some of Britain's richest people meant that the number of billionaires in the UK increased by just three to 120, the slowest rate of growth since the financial crisis, when their ranks dwindled from 75 to 43 in 2009.

And while London remains the world's preferred playground for billionaires with 77 - ahead of New York (61), San Francisco (57) and Hong Kong (49) - this was three fewer than last year.

The annual list of Britain's ultra-wealthy also boasted some spectacular rises, such as that of Sir James Dyson, the inventor famed for his bagless vacuum cleaner, among other creations. His household goods and technology business reported profits of £448 million last year, with salaries and dividends boosting the Dyson family's wealth by £1.5 billion to £5 billion.

Perhaps the most remarkable rise was staged by the little-known brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who were leasing a single dilapidated garage in Bury just 15 years ago. The pair have since built an empire worth £700 million by buying and renovating service stations to create a 341-strong chain of Euro Garages.

They soared 473 places to 164th as their fortune increased by £550 million to £700 million.

Britain's richest woman is Kirsty Bertarelli, the former Miss UK and would-be pop star who with her husband, the pharmaceutical billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, has a combined worth £9.8 billion, making them the richest husband and wife team.

Queen Elizabeth, who celebrated her 90th birthday last week , saw her wealth remain flat at £340 million but dropped 17 places in the list to equal 319th.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (not pictured) are driven past well-wishers during celebrations for the Queen's 90th birthday, in Windsor, Britain, on April 21, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

The sum puts her on level pegging with the entertainment mogul Simon Cowell, the man behind The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.

New entries included comedian and actor Sasha Baron-Cohen, who made his name with his Ali G character and this year released Grimsby, his first film in a decade.

Together with his wife, the former soap opera star Isla Fisher, the 44-year-old is worth £105 million, putting him 936th in Britain.

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was another new entry and Britain's richest sportsman with a fortune of £106 million.

British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton seen at the drivers' parade before the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix on, April 2016. PHOTO: EPA

Pop star Adele saw her personal worth soar by £35 million to £85 million, while there was no surprise that the wealthiest band were One Direction , worth a combined £132 million.

The richest former sportsman is ex-footballer David Beckham, who, with his wife Victoria, has assets worth £280 million.

England football captain Wayne Rooney leads the way for sports stars aged 30 or under with £82 million, ahead of tennis player Andy Murray (£57 million), golfer Rory McIlroy (£56 million) and Real Madrid footballer Gareth Bale (£34 million).

England football captain Wayne Rooney (left) and tennis player Andy Murray. PHOTOS: REUTERS, EPA

Overall, the 1,000 wealthiest people in Britain are worth a combined £576 billion, an increase of £28.5 billion on last year, which equality campaigners said amounted to an increase of £901 every second.

The Equality Trust pointed out that the wealth of the richest 1,000 was the same as that owned by the poorest 40 per cent in the UK.