Russian billionaire Usmanov tops Britain's rich list

LONDON (AFP) - Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has topped an annual "rich list" compiled by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, with a fortune of £13.3 billion (S$25 billion).

The 59-year-old tycoon, who started out manufacturing plastic bags, now owns Russia's biggest iron ore producer Metalloinvest and has a nearly 30-per cent stake in Arsenal Football Club.

He also has a holding in, Russia's biggest Internet company, and a large stake in London and Moscow listed mobile phone operator MegaFon.

Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who spent eight years at the top of the list, was ousted into fourth place with a wealth of £10 billion - down from £12.7 billion in 2012.

Mr Mittal, whose hold in steelmaking giant ArcelorMittal sank from a peak of £28 billion to £5.95 billion, was the biggest faller in the ranking of Britain and Ireland's wealthiest.

The combined fortunes of the 1,000 richest totals almost £450 billion, with the fortunes of the top 200 amounting to £318.2 billion, according to the list.

In second place, and the highest riser, is Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik, whose wealth rocketed from £3.4 billion last year to £11 billion ($16.8 billion) this year.

The Russian-born media mogul, who now holds United States citizenship, sold his stake in Russian oil and gas giant TNK-BP last month for £2 billion.

The 25th annual list, to be published in the British newspaper on Sunday, includes 88 billionaires, an increase from 77 last year and up from just nine when it was first published in 1989.

Queen Elizabeth II was ranked top in the list's first year when her wealth was valued at £5.2 billion and included all the Crown Estates and the royal art collection. After 1993 she fell from that spot as she was valued only on her personal wealth.

Third on the list this year are brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja, of the London-based international conglomerate Hinduja Group, with a fortune of £10.6 billion.

Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, who made his fortune in the oil industry, has dropped two places to fifth on the list, with a value of £9.3 billion.

New to the top 20 is Saudi businessman Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber at 15th place with £4.5 billion, ahead of Virgin founder Richard Branson who is ranked at 19 with £3.5 billion.

Earlier this month former Beatle Paul McCartney topped The Sunday Times rich list of musicians for a 25th year running with the £680 million fortune he shares with his third wife Nancy Shevell.