Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

National news

February 11, 2014

Class back on rise in UK -- but elite different

(Continued)

A NEW WEALTHY CLASS

When the Sunday Times newspaper published its first annual "Rich List" in 1989, Britain's wealthiest individual was Queen Elizabeth II. The top 10 was dominated by established British property and business owners, including the Duke of Westminster, who owns vast swaths of central London, supermarket magnate Lord Sainsbury and food mogul Lord Vestey. It was a snapshot of an elite heavy on titled backgrounds, clubby connections and inherited wealth.

The 2013 list is a roll-call of international capitalists who have made London their base, with the Duke of Westminster the only carryover from the original roster. Even the queen has dropped out.

The top 10 now includes Uzbek mining magnate Alisher Usmanov; Indian industrialists Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja; Chelsea Football Club's Russian owner, Roman Abramovich; Norwegian shipping tycoon John Frederiksen and Heineken beer heir Charlene de Carvalho.

The changes in the super-wealthy class were triggered, in part, by Thatcher, who deregulated business and banking and opened up London's financial sector to the world.

Philip Beresford, who assembles the list, told the BBC that "when I first started 25 years ago about two-thirds of the rich list were people who had inherited their wealth. Today, approaching 80 percent are self-made and that's really a legacy of the Thatcher years."

The top 100 companies in the FTSE index also reflect the changes. When the index was established in 1984, 80 of the 100 chief executives on it were British. In 2008 the number was 64, and in 2012 it was 55. In 1984, 33 of the CEOs had gone to Oxford or Cambridge; by 2013 it was down to 15.

The increasing diversity does not extend to gender. There were no female CEOs on the list in 1984 and only three in 2013.

PRESTIGE AND POLITICS

If business has grown more open, many Britons express concern that an old upper class is reasserting itself at the top of politics.

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