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Sri and Gopi Hinduja
Industry, Finance
Rank 2017
1
Worth
£16,200m
Rise/fall
£3,200m

Where Sir Winston Churchill once plotted Hitler’s downfall, the world’s super-rich will soon have a place to mingle and unwind. The Old War Office is to be converted into a sumptuous five-star hotel, with a ballroom for 600 guests, an 82ft swimming pool, a spa and two wine cellars. A rooftop bar will allow guests to take in the same view over London enjoyed by Daniel Craig’s James Bond in the closing scene of Skyfall. This vast Edwardian building will house 88 apartments, each with up to five bedrooms. The £350m development, granted planning permission this year, is the latest project by the Hinduja brothers, Sri and Gopi, who lead their dynasty – and the 2017 Sunday Times Rich List.
   Srichand, 81, and Gopichand, 77, topped our list for the first time in 2014 when their fortune stood at £11.9bn. SP and GP, as they are known, have kept a low profile since becoming embroiled in a political scandal during the Blair years. Gopi last year spoke favourably of what Brexit would mean for the UK and India. “There will be a greater focus on India and the emerging markets – and among the emerging markets, India will be the favourites,” he said. “Trade and investment will eventually grow and visa norms, which had been stricter because of the EU rules, should also ease up for Indian businesses. So I see it overall in a positive light that will only create stronger roots for democracy.”
   The Hindujas’ business empire was founded by their late father Parmanand in Mumbai in 1914. Five years later he set up an office in Iran trading in carpets, tea and spices where the Hinduja Group emerged with a merchant banking operation alongside its trading business. When the Islamic revolution swept through Iran in 1979, the Hindu brothers moved to London. Their two other siblings, Prakash, 71, and Ashok, 66, are based in Geneva and Mumbai. The brothers often speak several times a day –  and have said their annual phone bills peaked at nearly £100,000, and have fallen to a mere £16,000.
   Parmanand died in 1971, but the brothers say their father’s business tenets continue to guide the company, including the insistence that their word is their bond, and that they "advance fearlessly". Parmanand also advised his sons to spread their business across different countries and sectors. That advice was certainly heeded. Today the group, chaired by Sri, employs more than 70,000 people globally, with investments spanning oil and gas, IT, energy, media, banking, property and healthcare.
   The Hindujas’ largest enterprises include Gulf Oil, which they acquired in 1984, in which their investment has increased by £870m in the past year. In 1987 they acquired the ailing Indian automotive manufacturer Ashok Leyland, now India’s second biggest commercial vehicle manufacturer worth more than £2bn – with the Hindujas’ stake exceeding £1bn. Indusind Bank, which they founded, is valued on the stock market at nearly £10bn and the family’s holding has risen by nearly £1.2bn over the past year.
   In Britain their main company, Hinduja Automotive, chaired by Gopi, turned over more than £2bn in 2015-16 and showed £237.8m net assets. The Hindujas have also recently bought British assets including Careline, an outsourcing business, and the bus maker Optare. There are assets in Switzerland of about £3.6bn, according to Bilan’s 2016 Swiss Rich List. Their six-storey mansion, a sapphire's throw from Buckingham Palace, adds £300m.
   At £16.2bn, the brothers play down the numbers. Gopi said recently: “If you consider one to be wealthy or rich only because of his money, you are totally wrong. I consider someone to be wealthy and rich if he has good friends, good contacts, good relationships."

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