by Roger Moody
Last month (4 May 2011) the UK Sunday Times published its 2011 “Richest Brits” list.
It showed conclusively that the three wealthiest UK residents – and several who follow closely on their heels – are men who ‘ve acquired the vast majority of their wealth from investing in the minerals industry.
Most readers will know something about Lakshmi Mittal; who controls the world’s largest steel conglomerate, Arcelor-Mittal. His fortune is currently valued at £17.5 billion.
Roman Abramovich also needs little introduction – especially to fans of London’s Chelsea football club, which he controls, and who’s stashed away more than £10 billion, mainly through investments in oil and aluminium
But fewer people will bee aware of Alisher Usmanov (worth in advance of £12 billion), and the man behind Metalloinvest, the massive Russian metals conglomerate – who also has a significant stake in British football. (This time it’s the more meritorious North London Arsenal team.)
(You can catch up on this trans-located oligarch by reading this entry on the From Mining to Metals database: http://moneytometal.org/index.php/Metalloinvest.)
The notorious Anil Agarwal of Vedanta secures his position at number 17 in the list (with nearly 3.4 billion quid under his belt, followed by Vladimir Kim (at #18) – thanks to his sale of a s 39% stake in copper producer Kazakhmys to Kazakshtan’s sovereign wealth fund in late 2010.
This actually made Kim nearly half a billion pounds richer than the one genuinely household name on the list, Sir Richard Branson).
“Diamond Geezer”, South African-born Nicky Oppenheimer, arrives closely after Kim at number 20 (worth around £2.9 billion).
And Nathaniel (“Nat”) Rothschild scrapes into the top 100 at number 70, with a paper worth of a billion pounds, thanks largely to his floating of Vallar plc last year. (This is the company hoping to launch Bumi Resources, Indonesia’s biggest coal mining outfit, on the London Stock Exchange this year.)
What’s particularly sobering is to realise is that NONE of the biggest half dozen of these mining profiteers was actually born in the UK, and several took up residence in the green and pleasant just over the past few years.
Yet their combined wealth , at just over £50 billion, amounts to more than a quarter of the total £225 billion now reckoned to be in the hands of the UK’s Top 100 richest blokes (give or take a few women along the way)
Australia’s Business Review Weekly (BRW) a fortnight ago also published a Rich List of the country’s biggest hoarders of personal wealth. Top of this particular pile are those who also accumulated their dollars by exploiting minerals and running mines. According to BRW, the richest person in Australia is a woman called Gina Rinehart – a pleasant contrast, some might think, to the situation back in the Old Country. For Sunday Times’ UK Rich List doesn’t include a single woman in its own Top 50 – other than a few spouses. Ms Rinehart’s wealth can hardly be described as “earned”, even at the longest stretch of the imagination. For it’s largely been inherited from her father, the mining magnate, Lang Hancock. (See: http://moneytometal.org/index.php/Gina_Rinehart)
But what will surprise many people (not least in the Land of Oz) is that the richest man Down Under is none other than Ivan Glasenberg – Glencore’s head honcho .
According to BRW editor, Kate Mills, in an interview with BAC on 26 May, Glasenberg is “the highest ever debut that we have ever had coming in at number two and worth $8.8 billion.”
One wonders just how Glasenberg – born in South Africa and resident for years in Switzerland – could suddenly become an Australian?
According to Ms Mills: “We’ve known about Ivan for a while but what we didn’t know until this year is actually that he is Australian. Ivan Glasenberg was born in South Africa and there was a general assumption he was South African however while we were doing our research this year, we discovered that when he lived in Australia in the 1990s he took out Australian citizenship”.
She adds: ”Now that he [sic] has become a public company and a massive IPO, you can see how much the company is worth and you can see what his holdings are so that is how we know more about him.”
If that’s true, it’s more detail to add to our knowledge of Glasenberg and Glencore that we didn’t have earlier.
And that particular list is still very far from complete.
* According to the Business Spectator (27 May 2011) “Ivan Glasenberg isn’t the only Glencore executive to join the Australian rich list. His right-hand-man, Steven Kalmin, has also rocketed onto the list with a fortune of $560 million. Kalmin, who worked as a commodities trader in Sydney before heading for Switzerland in 2003, was appointed chief financial officer two years ago and now must help Glasenberg help Glencore live up to the pre-float hype”.
by Roger Moody