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Bertarelli couple rank fifth on UK's 'Rich List'

Malcolm Curtis · 19 May 2014, 10:39

Published: 19 May 2014 10:39 GMT+02:00

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The couple’s wealth is estimated at £9.75 billion, according to the Rich List, released on Sunday, with their investments in Britain pushing them into the top 10 for the first time.

Their fortune is estimated to have shot up by £2.35 billion from a year earlier.

Ernesto Bertarelli, 48, inherited the pharmaceutical company Serono, founded by his Italian grandfather, before expanding its business and selling to Merck for $13.3 billion in 2007.

For tax purposes, his official residence is in Gstaad, in the canton of Bern, but the Times list takes note of his significant investments in Britain, plus the fact his wife, Kirsty, 42, is a former Miss UK.

A singer-songwriter from Staffordshire who has launched a solo career, Kirsty recently released an album called Indigo Shores.

The Times said the mother of three, who married the Swiss-Italian entrepreneur in 2000, drives the Bertarelli Foundation’s UK projects.

Ernesto Bertarelli, who headed the Alinghi yacht team that won the America’s Cup race in 2003 and 2007, owns a £100-million British-built yacht called Vava II, the Times notes.

The newspaper also highlights the fact that a company he backs, Crosstree Real Estate Partners, recently bought prime Mayfair property at 43-48 Dover Street in London W1 for £83.5 million.

This, the paper says, underlines the billionaire’s “determination to make hefty investments in London property”.

Through Crosstree he is sinking £500 million into real estate, as well as developing a UK investment portfolio through Northill Capital.

Among the main projects of the £135 million in charitable investments made by the Bertarelli Foundation in the past year was funding for the Campus Biotech, a biotechnology R & D centre on the site of the former Serono headquarters in Geneva.

The Times says the wealth of the 1,000 individuals, couples or families on its list rose 15 percent from last year to reach a combined fortune of £520 billion.

That is double the amount from five years ago, suggesting that Britain’s wealthiest have prospered in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, while average residents have suffered.

Philip Beresford, the expert who has compiled the list since 1989, said he had never seen such a “phenomenal” rise in personal wealth.

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The total amounts to one third of the UK’s gross domestic product.

Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja topped the list with a joint fortune estimated at $11.9 billion.

The Hindujas, of Indian origin, control a range of industrial enterprises, in addition to financial operations that include a Geneva-based bank.

Here's a video showing Kirsty Bertarelli performing a song from her latest album:

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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