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Wealthiest in UK share $650b fortune

07:09 Sun Apr 29 2012

The rich in Britain got richer over the past year, with the wealthiest 1000 people in the UK now worth a record STG414 billion ($A649.46 billion).

Bucking the double-dip recession and record unemployment, the super-rich have so far enjoyed a great 2012, with the combined wealth of the richest 1000 now standing at STG414.26 billion ($A649.87 billion).

The figure represents a 4.7 per cent rise on last year and surpasses the previous high of STG412.85 billion ($A647.66 billion) in 2008, set months before the financial crash from which the rest of Britain has yet to fully recover.

There are 77 billionaires in the 2012 rich list this year, two more than the previous record of 75 in 2008 and the threshold to even be among the 1000 richest people in Britain rose by STG2 million ($A3.14 million) on last year - with individuals needing at least STG72 million ($A112.95 million) to make the list.

The figures were released in the annual "Rich List" from The Sunday Times.

Although still holding on to top spot, steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, 61, has seen 27 per cent wiped off the value of his family fortune in the past year as a result of the dramatic drop in the share value of his principal business, the giant steel producer ArcelorMittal.

The Mittals have now been number one in the rich list continuously since 2005.

British-born billionaires, including diamond retailer Laurence Graff, Sir Richard Branson, head of the Virgin empire, and JCB owner Sir Anthony Bamford, have enjoyed sharp rises in their fortunes.

The richest woman is Staffordshire-born former Miss UK Kirsty Bertarelli, who shares a STG7.4 billion ($A11.61 billion) fortune with her husband Ernesto.

Stakes in social media websites, including Facebook, Linkedin and Badoo have boosted the wealth of a number of millionaires in the latest rich list.

Andrey Andreev, 38, the London-based Russian businessman who founded the online dating site Badoo, is a new entrant in the list worth STG500 million ($A784.38 million). Joanna Shields, the European vice-president of Facebook, is expected to add to her wealth when the business floats.