If you want to join the ranks of the UK’s billionaires avoid advertising and media – or spread your interests to property, transport and metals anyway.
Philip Beresford’s annual round-up of the UK’s richest (although many of them actually reside for tax purposes somewhere else) has very few representatives from the world of advertising and media and, of those who have interests there, most do other things too.
Richard Branson is tops at 18 with an estimated wealth of £2.6bn but most of his wealth does not come from Virgin Media. Telegraph owners the Barclay Brothers come in at 22 with £1.8bn although much of this comes from property and hotels.
Express and OK! owner Richard Desmond is 57th with £950m, £100m of which comes from owning the Express’ new building. Newspaper families the Rothermeres (Daily Mail owners) and the Cowdrays (who own ten per cent of Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times) are up there but then you have to scrape the bottom of the barrel (metaphorically speaking) to find Sir Martin Sorrell on £125m and the Saatchi brothers on £120m.
What’s clear is that there’s a whole generation of top advertising and media types who have failed to build substantial companies, perhaps because the establishment, the comms holdings companies and the big media owners, are too big and too tempting to sell to.
Should we care? No, not really but the list does help to show how advertising and media companies have fallen in the world in relation to their peers in finance, commodities and even retailing.