Coronavirus wipes £54 billion from Britain’s wealthiest

Some billionaires lost up to £6 billion to end years of rising wealth

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An annual study of the wealthiest 1,000 people in Britain suggests they have lost £54 billion (Dh 240bn) over the last two months because of coronavirus.

Their combined wealth went down for the first time since 2009, with London-based brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja losing their top spot after suffering £6 billion losses, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

Its research suggested some 20 billionaires had used the government-funded furlough scheme in which some staff are paid 80 per cent of their salaries.

The list was topped this year by James Dyson, an inventor and entrepreneur, with a fortune of £16.2bn despite losing £500,000 million on an unsuccessful bid to mass-produce an electric car.

The Hinduja brothers move down to joint second position alongside property developers Simon and David Reuben with £16 billion.

The Reuben brothers are on the cusp of taking a 10 per cent stake in the English Premier League team Newcastle United. Another 80 per cent of the stake will be held by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, should the deal go through.

“Ever since the financial crisis of 2008-9, Britain's wealthiest people have become richer and richer,” said list compiler Robert Watts.

“Covid-19 has called time on their golden period. This year's rich list paints a picture of Britain on the brink of calamity - two months after lockdown and already billions of pounds have been wiped out.”