UK's richest man of property worth 7 bln pounds

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LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) The Duke of Westminster remains the wealthiest property man in Britain despite the rise of self-made billionaires, a rich list showed today.

The duke, who owns larges tracts of central London including Mayfair and Belgravia, as well as estates in Lancashire, Cheshire, Scotland, Canada and around the world, was estimated to be worth seven billion pounds, up from 6.6 billion pounds last year, Estates Gazette revealed in its latest Rich List.

The figures, compiled by Philip Beresford, who also produces the Sunday Times Rich List, confirmed the status of property as the biggest contributor to wealth in the country.

The 500 wealthiest property players in the UK and Ireland amassed a combined net worth of 117 billion pounds.

The average fortune for this year's leading 500 players in property investment, development and related areas such as estate agency, was just over 230 million pounds each -- about 15 per cent higher than the 200 million pounds average for last year's 400 entrants.

But the traditional way of accumulating land wealth, through inheritance, epitomised by the Duke of Westminster, is being challenged by new property gurus.

In second place was self-made billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben, with an estimated fortune of 3.5 billion pounds, built up from retirement homes and racecourses.

Third was Irish entrepreneur Sean Quinn, whose investments in hotels, pubs and wind farms, have helped him amass a fortune of 3 billion pounds.

The fastest risers in the pack were brothers Ian and Richard Livingstone, pioneers of the debt-backed market, who were up from 12 to seven this year, with 1.8 billion pounds.

Julia Cahill, editor of the Estates Gazette Rich List, said: ''Property has always been a breeding ground for entrepreneurial, driven and colourful characters, but the extraordinary property boom of the past few years has seen these players' wealth augment at breakneck speed.

''Less than a quarter of the wealth in this list is inherited.

The rest has been built up by individuals who started out as bricklayers, postmen, teachers, taxi drivers and soldiers -- as well as lawyers, bankers and surveyors.

''What they seem to share is a shrewd nose for a deal and an impeccable sense of timing.'' However, the gazette warned that there were bound to be adjustments to their wealth next year as a result of the property market entering a period of slowdown.

REUTERS SZ PM0508

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