London: NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has retained his top position as the richest Asian in the UK.

According to the Asian Rich List 2011 by Eastern Eye, a weekly publication brought out by the Asian Media and Marketing Group, Mittal and his family's wealth stood at 15.5 billion pounds, 1.5 billion pounds less than a year ago.

According to the List, Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and chief executive of Arcelor Mittal, world's largest steel producer, seems serious about investing in India, the fastest growing economy in the world after China.

Mittal now favours to build several smaller projects scattered across India instead of building a couple of giant steel plants in Orissa or Jharkhand.

Mittal was quoted saying "although 2010 continued to be a challenging year, as anticipated we saw a slow and progressive recovery which enabled us to deliver a substantially improved performance compared with 2009. The gradual underlying demand recovery continues and we expect 2011 to be stronger than 2010.”

"In 2010 as a whole when Mittal paid himself a 478 million dollar dividend, ArcelorMittal saw pre-tax profits hit 2.9 billion dollar, a improvement on the 157 million dollar made in the previous year when the recession caused a slump in steel demand.

Not content with owning three mansions in Kensington Palace Gardens in "Billionaires' Row" not far from Harrods in London, Mittal is planning to join Britain's country set with the acquisition of a 340-acre estate in Surrey.

The property was bought for a relatively modest 5.25 million pounds but Mittal intends spending another 25 million pounds on the development.

The Hinduja brothers - Srichand, Gopi, Prakash and Ashok, who have global business in many sectors, including oil, power, transport, IT and banking, have a wealth of 9 billion pounds, up 1 billion pounds over their wealth a year ago.
The Hindujas describe the last 12 months as having been "quite interesting and good", with the different sectors in which the family are involved growing by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent.

In the health sector, the Hindujas are building two hospitals in Mumbai, one of which will be devoted to "specialist surgery".

Defence is a new venture for the Hindujas, who have signed MoU with the Germans. They will be intended for India's defence requirements and for overseas markets.

The chairman of the group, Srichand Hinduja, said: "In 1986, I could foresee what was about to happen in Europe. By 1987-88, I started liquidating our risks there. Today, I am liquid and secure.

"Our group philosophy has been to diversify - by sectors and geographically. We are looking at 8 to 10 sectors. The percentage of investment in India is changing according to time, but there are no set rules."

But SP, who along with Gopi, is based in London, did express concern over corruption. "In India, corruption has exceeded all limits. It was always there, but now it has become dangerous. Evil seems to exceed the good. Now you have to make people accountable."

Gopi Hinduja indicated that the Hindujas intended to intensify their investments in India. "We have larger stakes abroad, but gradually we are coming towards India."

In banking, the assessment is very upbeat.

"IndusInd Bank Ltd continued its incredible run of good results in the March quarter, with a year-on-year net profit growth of 94 per cent. In the December quarter, net profit grew at 95 per cent year-on-year.

"The Hindujas have signed an agreement for a 50-50 joint venture for development of road infrastructure projects with France-based Vince group. The joint venture is for acquiring small, local construction companies and putting them together for road building in India.

In the auto sector, Ashok Leyland has launched a plant in the UAE for the manufacture of buses.

The company has also acquired a 26 per cent stake in the bus manufacturer, Optare, in the UK. The group expects this acquisition to boost its technological capacity for commercial vehicles.

Ashok Leyland has also reached an agreement with the Japanese car giant Nissan to produce a new compact car for the Indian market - so the Nano, Tata's much lauded car (costing just £1,250) may see a bit of competition, the report said.

On the energy side, the brothers and their sons have been busy. There is an agreement with the Areve Group of France to develop nuclear power projects in India.

The development of the 1,000MW power plant in Vishakapatnam is said to be making "good progress". And Gulf Oil has entered into the global marine business with the launch of Gulf Oil Marine in Hong Kong.

SP, who turned 75 last November, said: "We have let the younger generation decide for themselves what they want to do. There is no resistance or suppression."

Leading NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul is listed sixth in the list with wealth worth 600 million pounds, 90 million pounds more than last year.

Vedanta chief Anil Agarwal came third with 4.5 billion pounds worth - 500 million pounds more than a year ago.

According to the list, Jet Airways boss Naresh Goyal is 10th richest Asian worth 425 million pounds - 68 million pounds less than last year.

Kishore Lulla, executive chairman of Eros International which distributes Bollywood films is worth 285 million pounds and 16th in the list.

Kartar Lalvani, Chief of Vitabiotics, multi-vitamins manufacturer is 23rd with wealth worth 150 million pounds.

Lord Diljit Rana, Northern Ireland's most famous NRI, is 44th richest with wealth worth 90 million pounds, while Rami Ranger, chief of Sun Mark is 59th richest with wealth worth 66 million pounds.

(Agencies)