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Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 14:09 GMT
Labour backers head Asian rich list
Lakshmi Mittal
Lakshmi Mittal heads the list despite losing 100m
"Steelgate" tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and passports row billionaires the Hinduja brothers have been named Britain's wealthiest Asians.

The controversial Labour backers take the top two spots in a list of 275 millionaires compiled by the Asian Xpress newspaper.

The list underlines the increasing influence of the Asian business community in Britain, with those named worth a combined 9.5bn - an increase of 1bn over the past year.

Membership of the exclusive club is also growing - with the 50 new entries worth 560m between them - and at least 5m each.

Hinduja scandal

Mr Mittal found himself at the centre of a political row when it emerged he had donated 125,000 to the Labour Party, shortly before Tony Blair backed his bid to buy a Romanian steelworks.

Asian entrepreneurs have demonstrated a remarkable resilience and actually increased their wealth against all odds

Sarwar Ahmed

On Tuesday the saga took a new turn, with Plaid Cymru claiming the tycoon supports proposed tarrifs on steel imports to the US, which could cost "thousands" of British jobs.

A difficult year for the industrialist also saw his wealth fall by around 100m, but with a fortune of 900m left over he keeps his place at the top of the rich list.

Close behind are Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja, who are worth 800m - an increase of 100m during a turbulent 12 months.

The brothers held on to their runners-up position despite arms bribery allegations in India and fierce questioning about their relationship with the Labour Party in Britain.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson resigned after it was revealed the brothers were given British passports shortly after donating money to the Millennium Dome.

Internet tycoon

Richest Asians
1) Lakshmi Mittal - Ispat International - 900m
2) Hindujas - Sangam - 800m
3) Jatania Family - Lornamead International - 548m
4) Jasminder Singh - Edwardian Group of Hotels - 400m
5)Vijay and Bikhu Patel - Waymade Healthcare - 298m
The Asian Xpress list, which is released on Friday, 15 March, was compiled by Philip Beresford, author of the Sunday Times Rich List.

Highest new entries are Ranjit and Baljinder Boparan, who take the number 25 spot. The 35-year-old couple have amassed a fortune of 70m from their Dartmouth based chicken-processing firm.

The highest climber in terms of value is the Jatania Family of Lornamead International, whose fortune has increased by 300m to 548m, taking them to number three in the Rich List.

The biggest drop of the year was suffered by software consultant Professor Madan Singh, who has lost over 80m - a drop of 120 places.

Internet tycoon Reuben Singh, 25, who made the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest multi-millionaire, is said to be worth 35m.

'Remarkable resilience'

The list shows that Asian entrepreneurs are getting younger with 55 of those named still under the age of 40.

Women also take an increasing number of slots, with 47-year old Nighat Awan, Meena Pathak and Perween Warsi all doing well from their Indian food businesses.

Industry remains the most lucrative sector, with food, fashion, retail and the hotel business doing well, despite the predicted impact of the 11 September attacks.

Asian Xpress publisher Sarwar Ahmed, said the list highlights the success of Asian in Britain and their contribution to the community.

He said: "In what has been a difficult year for industry in general, Asian entrepreneurs have demonstrated a remarkable resilience and actually increased their wealth against all odds.

"This clearly demonstrates just how far Asians have integrated into the fabric of British society."

See also:

05 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Blair faces new 'Steelgate' row
01 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Mandelson welcomes report
01 Mar 02 | Business
The rich get poorer
08 Sep 99 | UK
UK Asians doing OK
08 Apr 99 | Your Money
Asian success stories in UK
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