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British super-rich roar back as billionaires increase

By the CNN Wire Staff
Lakshmi Mittal ranked fifth on last month's Forbes list of world's richest people.
Lakshmi Mittal ranked fifth on last month's Forbes list of world's richest people.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wealth increase "easily the biggest annual rise in the 22 years of the Rich List"
  • The list, compiled by Sunday Times, contains 1,007 men and 99 women
  • Indian-born steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal tops list with $34 billion fortune
  • Property is the single largest sector putting people onto the rich list
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London, England (CNN) -- Britain's super-rich roared back in the past year, with the number of billionaires rising from 43 to 53 and the total wealth of the top 1,000 increasing by a third, according to the Sunday Times annual Rich List.

The increase in wealth is "easily the biggest annual rise in the 22 years of the Rich List," Times journalist Philip Beresford wrote, even as the country struggled to claw its way out of recession.

The country's richest man, Indian-born steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, more than doubled his wealth, to £22 billion (about $34 billion).

Mittal ranked fifth on last month's Forbes list of world's richest people. The magazine estimated his wealth at $28.7 billion then.

Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim Helu topped the Forbes list. His estimated net worth of $53.5 billion put him just ahead of Microsoft's Bill Gates.

Mexican mogul tops world list

Russian-born tycoon Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea soccer team, is second on the Times list, worth an estimated £7.4 billion ($11.4 billion).

Entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson is 18th, worth £2.6 billion ($4 billion).

Formula One motor racing head Bernie Ecclestone is 38th, with £1.375 billion ($2.1 billion) to his name. His ex-wife Slavica is also on the list, with the source of her income listed as "divorce."

She's worth £734 million ($1.1 billion), putting her 84th.

Inventor James Dyson, the Guinness family, composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed also make the top 100.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is wirth £519 million ($798 million), putting her at 129th and making her "easily the world's richest author," the Times says.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney is the highest-ranking rocker, with £475 million ($730 million) in the bank.

Queen Elizabeth II comes in 245th place, with an estimated wealth of £290 million ($446 million).

The list contains 1,007 men and 99 women. There are more than 1,000 individuals on the list because some family members occupy one place together.

After a sharp dip in 2009, the wealth of the richest Britons moved up again in 2010. It took just over £1 billion ($1.5 billion) to make the top 200 this year, up from about £800 million ($1.23 billion) to reach that level last year.

Levels haven't quite recovered to 2008 records, when the top 200 people on the list were worth a collective £280 billion ($430 billion). Today they're worth £228.8 billion ($351.8 billion).

Nearly half the billionaires on the list -- 24 out of 53 -- were born outside the UK but live in London or its environs for at least part of the year.

The Duke of Westminster, property tycoon Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, is the highest-ranking British-born person on the list. He's worth an estimated £6.7 billion ($10.3 billion).

Property is the single largest sector putting people onto the rich list, making up 204 of the top 1,000 spots.

Not only are the rich getting richer, according to the list, but the super-rich are getting super-richer.

Last year the top 100 on the list controlled 50.8 percent of the total wealth on the 1,000-member list. This year they own 54.5 percent of the total -- £182.8 billion ($281 billion).

The Sunday Times also compiles lists of the biggest donors to charity, based on the percentage of their wealth that the richest 1,000 have given or pledged recently.

Christopher Cooper-Hohn topped that list, having recently donated £531 million ($816 million) in hedge fund profits to humanitarian projects.

Actress Uma Thurman and her partner Arpad Busson were fifth on the charity list, while singer Elton John was ninth.

The top 40 political donors gave overwhelmingly to the opposition Conservative party.