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Britains Biggest Losers


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Britain's richest man, the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, has also emerged as the country’s biggest loser from the credit crunch with more than £16 billion wiped off his fortune by plummeting stock markets in just four months.


Mittal heads a list of 10 super-rich losers who between them have seen their share portfolios shrink by some £23 billion from their peaks.


The plight of Mittal, 58, who remains a multi-billionaire, is unlikely to rouse the sympathy of ordinary homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments, but it shows that the super-rich have seen their capital value badly dented by the economic slowdown.


The scale of Mittal’s losses dwarfs those of others in the losers’ top 10, who include Mike Ashley, the beleaguered owner of Newcastle United football club and the retailer Sports Direct.


The credit crunch losses were established by comparing the value of shareholdings around the world held by those near the top of The Sunday Times Rich List at their peak with the value at the close of last Friday’s markets.


Mittal has seen his family’s stake in ArcelorMittal, the steel conglomerate, fall from £33.24 billion on June 4 this year to £16.63 billion at the close of Friday’s markets. The loss is the equivalent of £137m a day or nearly £6m an hour.


The tycoon’s son Aditya, in an interview with Indian GQ magazine, seemed braced for straitened times - although perhaps his recent visit to a budget high street retailer was less of a necessity than for other shoppers.


“What’s that £3 shirt place on Oxford Street? Primark,” he said. “The queues were too long, so I walked out.”


He also worries about the risk of excessive wealth spoiling his two young children. “Money is a curse,” he said. “It breaks my heart when I take them on vacation in a private jet. They’re not even two or three! When are they going to see a normal airport? It’s horrible.”


Tim Bouquet, author of a book on Lakshmi Mittal, said the tycoon’s lifestyle was well suited to less ostentatious times. “He’s very careful with money, he knows where most of the pennies go,” Bouquet said. “He likes to joke that on his plane he serves pizza rather than champagne. Mittal’s idea of a good time is to order Chinese takeaway from Zen Central in Mayfair.”


Mittal is also joint owner of Queens Park Rangers with Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One, and Flavio Briatore, managing director of the Renault Formula One team. They sparked protests from their fan base last weekend after raising prices for some games to £50, the most expensive tickets in the Championship.


The furore pales in comparison with the wrath that struck Ashley at Newcastle after he decided last month to part company with Kevin Keegan, the manager and former player revered in the northeast.


He cast a lonely figure at a recent game, downing beer while listening to fans chant “Ashley out”. They may not have realised that he was grappling with the collapse in the value of his shares at Sports Direct, from £1.16 billion in February 2007 to £209m now.


Ashley, who spent £243m buying the club and clearing its debts, is now desperate to sell. “I am Mike Ashley, not Mike Ashley, a multi-billionaire with unlimited resources,” he told fans last month.


Another football club owner has suffered from attempts to play the market. Joe Lewis, the billionaire trader who and is also the majority owner of Tottenham Hotspur, lost £602m after the collapse of Bear Sterns.


Other fallers include Charles Dunstone and David Ross, co-founders of Carphone Warehouse, which has suffered in the high street downturn. Dunstone’s shareholding has fallen from £1.1 billion to £497m, while Ross has lost £372m.


Michael Spencer, the Tory party treasurer, chairs the broker Icap, best known for its handling of trades in investment banking, once the “masters of the universe” industry and now wrecked by the collapse of some of its leading players.


Spencer has seen the value of his shares fall from £895m in January this year to £424m. His spokesman said: “He’s in this for the long term and over time this will be seen as less of a significant event along the way.”


The fate of Duncan Davidson, head of the Persimmon housebuilding group, whose value has been devastated by the housing crash, may resonate most with householders hit by falling property values. In April 2007 his family’s stake in Persimmon was worth nearly £225m, but its value has dwindled to £58m.


Davidson was hoping to raise some £30m by selling 8,000 acres of his Northumberland estate to head off losses.


“The land is on the market but the credit crunch is affecting would-be purchasers,” he said. “Nobody likes losing money, but it’s money that we made by building up the company from nothing and I’m thrilled to have £58m.


“Things go round in a circle. I’m an old man now and I’ve seen so many cycles.”


Falling fortunes of Britain’s richest


Lakshmi Mittal and family: Steel

Down £16.6bn


Anil Agarwal: Metals

Down £2.7bn


Mike Ashley: Sports retail

Down £960m


Charles Dunstone: Mobile phones

Down £618m


Joseph Lewis: Trader

Down £602m


Michael Spencer: Broker

Down £471m


Bruno Schroder and family: Investment banking

Down £432m


Lord Rothermere and family: Media

Down £432m


Benzion Freshwater and family: Property

Down £391m


David Ross: Mobile phones

Down £372m


Source: Philip Beresford, editor of The Sunday Times Rich List. Data from New York and London stock exchanges.


Joe Lewis & Mike Ashley own shite teams & there shares are rocketing downwards as well.



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Guest thefishman

Didnt ashley float sportdirect, then sold most of his shares for 900 odd million then buy them back again for a totally reduced price?

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