Women rising up: UK now home to 25 female billionaires

Kirsten Rausing

The number of female billionaires in the UK has reached a record 25, according to the 2020 Sunday Times Rich List.

The list, published tomorrow, reveals the staggering wealth of women including the Bet365 boss, Denise Coates, and media dynasty scion Elisabeth Murdoch.

Kirsten Rausing (pictured), of the Swedish family behind TetraPak, tops the list with a £12.1bn fortune, while her aunt Marit becomes the UK’s third-richest woman after the death of her husband Hans left her and her family with a net worth of £9.6bn.

The other woman in the top five whose wealth has increased since last year is Coates, the founder and CEO of online gambling company Bet365, who shares her riches with brother John and father Peter. Coates paid herself a record £323m in December last year, helping her climb to fifth place among wealthy women with nearly £7.2bn to her name, up £310m on last year.

Just a fraction behind Coates – approximately £500m poorer – is the Hollywood actress Salma Hayek, who makes the list, along with her husband François-Henri Pinault. He oversees luxury brands such as Gucci through his family’s Kering operation, and the pair share a £6.6bn fortune.

One of the UK’s newest billionaires is Elisabeth Murdoch, the second daughter of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who increased her wealth by more than £1bn to £1.2bn. Rupert’s six children split $12bn in cash and shares between them last year, thanks to the sale of the Australian billionaire’s 21st Century Fox business to Disney.

Elisabeth also made £151m in 2011 when her production company Shine was sold to News Corp, part of her father’s media empire.

As well as 25 female billionaires, there are 150 women with fortunes of more than £120m on this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, released this weekend.

Singer Rihanna is the wealthiest new entrant, albeit only the 48th richest woman in the UK, with assets of £468m, thanks to her eight albums, a cosmetics partnership with luxury brand LVMH and a lingerie line.

The Barbadian singer makes the list for the first time after it emerged last year that she has been living in London.

Of the top 25 women, four made their billions from pharmaceuticals, while five list inheritance among the sources of their wealth.

These include Lady Charlotte Wellesley, a descendant of the first Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, although while a small part of her wealth stems from her aristocratic origins, her Colombian-American husband, Alejandro Santo Domingo, is a billionaire investor whose family’s vast wealth includes a stake in ABInBev, the brewing giant behind Budweiser.