Surrey's richest 50 2009

PUBLISHED: 12:49 11 April 2012 | UPDATED: 16:01 20 February 2013

Surrey's richest 50 is out now in Surrey Life magazine

Surrey's richest 50 is out now in Surrey Life magazine

Not surprisingly, it hasn't been the greatest year for Surrey's millionaires. Here, the writer of the Sunday Times Rich List, PHILIP BERESFORD analyses what it's meant for Surrey's richest 50

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2009

Not surprisingly, it hasn't been the greatest year for Surrey's millionaires, with many of them losing a sizeable chunk of their fortunes. Here, the writer of the Sunday Times Rich List, PHILIP BERESFORD analyses what it has all meant for Surrey's richest 50

Surrey's rich are being squeezed as never before as recession deepens. Our third annual edition of Surrey's richest 50 shows that the overall wealth of the richest 50 people or families which peaked at 9.1 billion in 2007, and dipped to 8.5 billion last year has taken a further knock to just over 7 billion. This near 17% fall is actually pretty good in comparison to many other counties and regions. It helps obviously to have a hugely diverse economy in what we count as Surrey - our area stretching from Kingston, Richmond, Wimbledon, Sutton and Croydon in the north by way of the borders of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire in other directions.

Surrey Life's richest 50 is still headed by Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born British citizen who lives in Kingston-on-Thames. He may have huge property and hotel interests in the Middle East but these are not immune to the economic downturn and this year we value him at 1.2 billion - down nearly 1 billion on last year. We have a new number two this year in the well-known shape of Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods and Fulham Football Club. He has a large estate in Oxted though he now spends much time in Switzerland, having been denied a British passport by successive governments. Harrods is performing strongly despite the severe downturn in retail sales on the back of strong tourist revenue. As such we value him at 650m.

Surrey still lives up to its reputation as a place where musicians, actors and the like can live quietly, free of the media spotlight in London. Characters as diverse as Sir Michael Caine and Sir Cliff Richard are long-term Surrey residents. From the world of rock music come the usual suspects in the shape of Rolling Stones Sir Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood, while Eric Clapton and The Who's Peter Townshend are also in our glamour line-up. But no footballers make our team this year. In spite of many Chelsea players living and training in Surrey, we calculate that none can yet make even our lowered threshold of 25m.

Overall ten of the millionaires in the latest rich list have made their fortunes in property or housebuilding. This is still the largest sector of wealth creation but is a hefty 50% fall from last year and shows the devastation caused by falling house prices in Surrey, which traditionally has had some of the highest prices in Britain. When we first started 18 of the 50 were in property or housebuilding.

Yet in spite of the recession, Surrey remains a place where those who have fortunes are largely self-made. Only four of Surrey's richest 50 have inherited their wealth. That wealth is not necessarily an accident of birth can only be good for social cohesion in these troubled times. Equally pleasing, the number of women in the list has crept up from four last year to six this time. Our youngest entry is again Katie Price, the model at 30m. At the bottom of the list is Lynda La Plante, the award winning screenwriter with a 25m fortune based on her TV work and property.

A tough year then for the Surrey rich, but while many rich bashers may gloat, the brutal truth is that they do represent our best possible route out of the current economic and unemployment crisis. Let's all hope that Woking-born Ron Dennis, worth around 87m, can get the investment required to build McLaren sports cars in volume at his space age facility outside the town. It could bring hugely valuable high tech industrial jobs to the county. We desperately need more like Dennis.

Latest from the Surrey