Mittal richest in Sunday Times UK rich list; Hindujas among top ten

Apr 29 | Updated: Apr 30 2007, 05:30am hrs
Lakshmi Mittal, the 56-year-owner of the worlds largest steel company, increased his personal fortune by 29% in the last year and remained atop Britains Sunday Times rich list after he acquired rival Arcelor SA.

Mittal, worth $38.5 billion, led the list for the third straight year, the London-based newspaper said on Sunday. Roman Abramovich, the 40-year-old Russian oil billionaire and Chelsea soccer club owner, was second with a fortune of 10.8 billion, unchanged from a year earlier. Third was the property owner the Duke of Westminster, worth 7 billion.

There are 68 billionaires born or based in the UK, up from 54 a year ago, and many are foreigners taking advantage of favourable tax rules, the Times said. The countrys 1,000 wealthiest individuals had their combined fortunes swell by 20 % to 360 billion, according to the Times.

Britains richest have seen their fortunes grow faster than their equivalents in Europe and worldwide, the Times said. Mittal Steel Cos purchase of Luxembourg rival Arcelor for $35.9 billion last year was the biggest acquisition ever in that industry and helped to boost the fortune of its Indian-born chief executive. European steel prices jumped 30% to $600 a tonne in the past 12 months, according to the UK industry publication Metal Bulletin Plc.

Two new entries to the top 10 are Sri and Gopi Hinduja, who joined at number four with 6.2 billionalmost double the year-earlier value of their fortune, the Times said. Hindujas Mumbai-based group has interests in banking, energy and transportation. Mittal, born into a steelmaking family in Rajasthan, started with one mill in Indonesia in 1976 and has built his company through acquisitions. Hes the worlds fifth-richest person behind Microsoft owner Bill Gates, Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, US investor Warren Buffett and Swedens Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, according to Forbes magazine.