Memories of the great recession of 2007-2008 may be fading as the UK economy recovers but there are clouds gathering on the horizon.
The property market has recovered well, and property developers and investors in our annual list of the richest West Midlanders have found themselves with increasing fortunes, underpinned by fast-growing property portfolios and land bank values.
But for manufacturers – particularly exporters – it’s a different story. Slowdowns in the previously buoyant economies of China, India and Brazil, Russian sanctions and sluggish economies in Europe have taken their toll. Demand is down and the reduction in schedules by the original equipment manufacturers is rippling through the supply chain.
The writing on the wall is writ large, underlined by the unexpected collapse of Lord Paul’s Caparo Group. Lord Bamford stays at the number one position in this year’s list but his JCB is feeling some pain as international markets slow down.
For others – less dependent on events elsewhere in the global economy – things are better. For many of the Midlands’ richest-of-the-rich, the recession is ancient history. They are getting richer and the worth of most of our wealthiest continues to climb.
The Birmingham Post Rich List is geographically focused on the West Midlands, concentrating on the area covered by our three Local Enterprise Partnerships : the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP which also covers a large part of Staffordshire and parts of Worcestershire, the Black Country LEP and the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP.
The 50 multi-millionaires on our 2016 list all either live, work or make a significant economic or cultural contribution to the areas covered by these three LEPs. We continue to put an emphasis on fortunes that are used to benefit or enrich the West Midlands and its immediate area.
The amassed total fortunes of our richest 50 have actually fallen for the first time since the recession, due in large part to the effect of the Caparo collapse on Lord Paul’s fortune . This year’s total adds up to £16.963 billion, down from £17.415 billion in 2015. But we have one more billionaire this year, with motorcycles to housing magnate John Bloor joining JCB billionaire Lord Bamford, Lord Paul and the oldest person on our list – 96 year-old air-conditioning billionaire Jacques Gaston Murray .
This means the top four on our list are all manufacturers – appropriate for the manufacturing heart of the country.
The entry price for making the list has also risen this year. You’ll still need a personal fortune of at least £65 million to qualify for a place, beating last year’s total of £57 million – Once again we have some new faces in the list, including polo enthusiast and retired GP who made his fortune from pharmaceuticals Dr Dallas Burston , and retail king and the man behind Poundland’s dramatic expansion Jim McCarthy .
Many on our list have made their money through property – either building it or investing in it. They were the probably the biggest losers of the recession but as property values climb to pre-recession levels, they are doing well again. Simon Clarke , Jim Leavesley , Paul Bassi , Tony Gallagher and Roy Richardson are all benefiting from the property boom.
Food continues to be well-represented, led by Ranjit and Baljinder Boparan Singh whose 2Sisters food group has had its challenges but still grows. Tony Deep Wouhra , Woon Wing Yip and Peter Blakemore also keep the food flag flying.
The entertainment sector continues to make a contribution, with Brum’s favourite rocker Ozzy Osbourne maintaining his fortune and Robert Plant increasing his. Meanwhile, Jeff Lynne – rated by the Washington Post as the fourth most respected music producer in the world – makes a very welcome second appearance in this year’s list.
A brief word about the rules of engagement for the 2016 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 areas covered by the three local enterprise partnerships in our region, or were brought up here, or who have major business interests here.
We took longevity and commitment to the economic wealth of the region into account.