Ian Strachan compiles a list of the top 50 wealthiest people in the region and describes how they have been weathering the financial storm.

This time last year we were admiring the resilience of our wealthiest millionaires in riding out the recession relatively unscathed.

But this recession has been so deep, so long and so disastrous for some sectors, particularly property and construction, that something had to give. And what has given is a massive £3.63 billion wiped off the fortunes of the Midlands mega-rich.

Anyone with substantial property interests – and that’s most of our list – has seen substantial sums knocked off their personal wealth. The fall-off in the construction sector has done serious damage to company values and company asset worth. Only those who bought land banks at the very bottom of the market have preserved their positions to any extent.

Despite all that, we still have four billionaires in our list – just, and Staffordshire maintains its position as the home of the super-rich with the top three all being Staffordshire born and bred.

The pack has been shuffled at the top of the list, but the top three are still there. The number one slot is still held by songwriter, jewellery designer and former beauty queen from Stone, Kirsty Bertarelli. Her husband’s pharmaceutical fortune has dropped in value by half a billion pounds, but that’s not enough to threaten her primacy.

At number two, up from last year’s number three, is phones magnet John Caudwell, retaining most of his fortune and still looking for business opportunities despite selling his Phones4u empire a few years ago.

Down to number three is Sir Anthony Bamford. Last year his position was buoyed by a tremendously successful 2007 for JCB, but the subsequent downturn and collapse in demand for construction equipment has resulted in a major dent in the JCB bank balance.

Although the top slots are taken up by telecommunications, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals it continues to be property developers, and in particular those involved in commercial property, who dominate our list, though many – David Wilson and Simon Clarke in particular – have suffered big drops in company values.

The downturn in property values has clearly had a impact and many fortunes have slipped. Remaining static after the year we’ve just had is something of a triumph. Inevitably some have fallen off the list altogether.

One success story is Stoke City owner and founder of online gambling site Bet365 Peter Coates. He and his family have proved that people are willing to gamble even in a recession and the business has gone from strength to strength.

The entertainment sector once again makes a significant contribution to the list, with Brum’s favourite rocker Ozzy Osbourne, ex-Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant and a resurgent Robbie Williams all retaining a place. Sporting interests are represented by Randy Lerner, Steve Morgan, Peter Coates and Sir Jack Hayward.

The man behind Cornish pastie empire Ginsters, David Samworth and cider baron Esmond Bulmer both retain a place in the list, flying the flag for the food and drink sector along with Woon Wing Yip who hasn’t let the recession deflect him from his ambitious investment plans for the future.

The credit crunch means that the price of entry this year has dropped a little. The £70 million you would need to get into last year’s list has dropped to a mere £65 million, so that gives hope to all of us.

One thing that hasn’t dropped very much is charitable giving and philanthropy. Our richest-of-the-rich still give a sizeable lump of their fortunes to charities and good causes.

A brief word about the rules of engagement for the Birmingham Post Rich List: In assessing who goes into the list and who stays out there is inevitably some subjectivity involved, and we can only work from publicly available information.

We looked at the personal wealth, property interests, shareholdings, company valuations, asset valuations, liabilities, and other known wealth of people who either live and/or work in the Midlands, or who have major business interests in the region or have spent most of their lives here.

We took longevity and commitment to the Midlands into account.

Rich List 2010
1 (1) Kirsty Bertarelli  £5.0bn (£5.5bn) Pharmaceuticals
2 (3) John Caudwell £1.5bn (£1.65bn)  Telecommunications
3 (2) Sir Anthony Bamford £1.0bn (£1.8bn) Manufacturing
4 (5) Viscount Portman £950m (£1.35bn) Property
5 (6) Randy Lerner £900m (£800m) Finance/Sport
6 (10) Jorgen Philip-Sorensen £620m (£630m) Security
7 (7) Felix Dennis £580m (£750m) Publishing
8= (4) Lord Paul of Marylebone & Family £500m (£1.5bn) Manufacturing
8= (9) John Bloor £500m (£640m) Construction/Manufacturing
8= (14) Tony Gallagher £500m (£500m) Construction
11 (12) Jacques Gaston Murray £480m (£625m) Manufacturing
12= (17) Freddie Linnett & Family £450m (£450m) Construction
12= ( - ) The Mackie Family £450m ( - ) Electrical
14 (23=) Peter Coates & Family £400m (£300m) Gambling
15 (10-) Robert Edmiston £380m (£630m) Property/Automotive
16 (19) Will Adderley & Family £365m (£420m) Retailing
17= (16) Roy Richardson & Family £350m (£460m) Construction
17= (20) Steve Morgan £350m (£400m) Property
19 (21) David Samworth £340m (£390m) Food
20 (13) Sir Peter Rigby £330m (£520m) Computers
21 ( - ) Casper MacDonald-Hall £320m ( - ) Property
22 (22) Jonathan Kendrick £310m (£385m) Telecommunications
23 (15) Sir Michael Bishop £300m (£480m) Airlines
24 (8) David Wilson £295m (£730m) Property
25 ( - ) Paul Ruddock £280m ( - ) Finance
26 (26) Sir Paul Smith £250m (£260m) Fashion
27= (25) Tony Wilkinson & Family £240m (£280m) Retailing
27= (28) Paul Newey £240m (£240m) Finance
29 (32) Sean Quinn Jnr £190m (£190m) Hotels
30 (31) Peter Horton & Family £185m (£195m) Property
31 (27) Simon Clarke & Family £180m (£250m) Construction
32 (30) Sir Euan Anstruther Gough-Calthorpe £165m (£200m) Property
33 (29) Richard Harpin £160m (£230m) Insurance
34= (33) Sir Jack Hayward £130m (£160m) Property
34= (43=) Charles Clowes £130m (£100m) Construction
36 (38) Ranjit & Baljinder Boparan Singh £125m (£135m) Food
37 (35=) Eric Grove £110m (£140m) Property
38 (35=) Keith Bradshaw £105m (£140m) Automotive
39 (41) Andrew Cohen & Family £100m (£115m) Retailing
40 (34) Jim Leavesley £95m (£150m) Property/Military Surplus
41= (42) Ozzy Osbourne & Family £90m (£110m) Music
41= (45=) Robbie Williams £90m (£95m) Music
41= (43=) Shiraz Dharamshi Tejani £90m (£100m) Paper
44 (35=) Alan Jackson £88m (£140m) Telecommunications
45 (45=) Constantine Folkes £85m (£95m) Property/Manufacturing
46= (39) Abdul Majid Alimohamed £80m (£130m) Packaging
46= (48) Woon Wing Yip £80m (£80m) Retailing
48 (49) Robert Plant £75m (£75m) Music
49 (47) Esmond Bulmer £70m (£85m) Drink
50 ( - ) Christopher Taylor & Family £65m ( - ) Pharmaceuticals

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> Rich List 2008