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Sunday, October 3, 1999 Published at 18:02 GMT 19:02 UK

Business: The Economy

UK Net millionaires boom

Britain's youngest Internet millionaire founded Jewishnet at age 17

The UK has more Internet millionaires than anywhere else than the United States.

A survey by the Sunday Times says the top 100 Internet millionaires have a combined net worth of 4bn.

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But the richest cyber-millionaires in Britain so far have got there by providing venture capital, rather than by running the services themselves.

Top of the list is Paul Sykes, the eurosceptic Yorkshire businessman who sold his stake in the Meadowhall shopping complex in Sheffield for more than 300m. He was the key backer for Planet Online, one of Britain's first Internet Service Providers which was sold to Energis, who now provide Freeserve's backbone.

Also high on the list is venture capitalist Kevin Leech, who made his fortune in biotechnology. Mr Leech backed two US ventures,, and, a web-based recruitment agency. He now plans to launch Europe's first public venture capital fund for net companies, raising 120m.

The BBC's Steve Levinson meets some potential 'business giants' of the future
Both Jim Mellor, the Hong Kong based financier who has backed, an Internet department store, and Stelios Haj-Ioannou, the airline owner who is launching Internet cafe chain easyEverything, made most of their money elsewhere.

Among the true entrepreneurs in the top 10 are Dan David and Serge Crasnianski of Photo-me, who are trying to turn the photo-booths into high-tech Internet portals, with computers to surf the Web.

Also included is Charles Nasser, who has built up the ISP ClaraNet to 150,000 subscribers in the UK and France.

Bright ideas

Further down the list come the owners of some of the UK's best known Internet companies.

Tim Jackson, the freelance reporter who founded auction house Qxl, could be worth 37m when the company floats on the stock market this week.

Paul Lindsey has already made 40m from listing eXchange, which provides mortgage quotes and other financial information.

Cliff Stanford, who founded ISP Demon, made 30m when he sold it to Scottish Telecom. He now lives in Belgium where he is backing other e-commerce ventures.

And Martha Fox, who founded to sell late booking holidays and flights, could be worth up to 20m when her company is floated.

The youngest Internet millionaire is Benjamin Cohen, who launched earlier this year with 150 - and is now thought to be worth 5m at the age of 17.

For most of the Internet millionaires, like those in the United States, their wealth is on paper only. If they tried to sell their shares the value of their companies might decline.

The UK Internet stock boom now seems to be cooling. But the likelihood is that, with private venture capital still moving in, there are still more fortunes to be made - and lost.

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The Economy Contents

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Utilities face tough regulation

CBI's new chief named

US stocks hit highs after rate rise

US Fed raises rates

UK inflation creeps up

Row over the national shopping basket

Military airspace to be cut

TUC warns against following US

World growth accelerates

Union merger put in doubt

Japan's tentative economic recovery

EU fraud costs millions

CBI choice 'could wreck industrial relations'

WTO hails China deal

US business eyes Chinese market

Red tape task force

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Guru predicts web surge

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Irish boom draws the Welsh

China deal to boost economy

US dream scenario continues

Japan's billion dollar spending spree