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November 20, 2010 12:11 am
The aristocratic estates that own huge swaths of Britain’s property and land have seen a rise in fortunes over the past year.
Almost £30bn was taken off the collective wealth of the top 250 property tycoons during 2008 and 2009, taking combined fortunes from a high of £98bn in 2007 to a low of £69bn last year.
The market’s recovery has seen this combined wealth rise to £72bn. This is the first improvement since commercial property values began to fall in the second half of 2007.
Most of property’s wealthy moguls have seen their fortunes rise again after the end of the recession last year, according to the annual rich list of the property sector, although Irish investors who were backed by the country’s troubled banks have remained under pressure.
According to the Estates Gazette Rich List, the estates of the Duke of Westminster – which tops the list with a fortune of £6.8bn – Cadogan and Howard de Walden remain among the most powerful in the country, and have been boosted in particular this year by their typically low borrowings and solid assets.
The Duke of Westminster remains the richest man in property. He owns Grosvenor, the group that controls most of Mayfair and much of Belgravia and Knightsbridge, as well as more recent schemes such as the Liverpool One shopping centre.
Earl Cadogan, third on the list with £2.5bn, runs a 93-acre Chelsea estate.
More modern property empires built by dealmakers such as David and Simon Reuben, Richard and Ian Livingstone and Eddie and Sol Zakay have also been among the top performers.
Irish investors in British property have been among the biggest losers on the list, however. The report’s authors add that Irish investors are likely to be in an even worse situation than stated owing to the deterioration of the market since the financial records were compiled.
Julia Cahill, editor of the Estates Gazette Rich List, said: “Property’s elite have been battered by the credit crunch and recession, but the latest list shows the resilience of fortunes built on good quality assets, which are now recovering their lost value.
“Not everyone is seeing a recovery, however. Irish investors and developers feature heavily among those who have seen their fortunes contract this year and they continue to be hammered.”
Ms Cahill pointed to Sean Quinn, who was dropped from the list this year owing to uncertainty, having ranked third in the 2009 list with an estimated fortune of £2.3bn. Others to see a drop in their net worth on the list include Sean Mulryan and John Magnier.
The youngest on the rich list are India-Rose James and Fawn James, the granddaughters of the late Paul Raymond of Soho Estates, with a shared fortune of £120m. The richest woman on the list is Lady Howard de Walden, heading a family fortune of £1.4bn.
The list is compiled using share price valuations in quoted property companies in early September 2010, while private companies’ wealth estimates are based on their latest net asset figure.
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