Billionaire Britons in the spotlight at Asian Business Awards
THERE were double celebrations for one of Britain's leading family conglomerates as the Hindujas scooped the top honour at the Asian Business Awards as well as being named the wealthiest in the Asian Rich List 2014, unveiled in London on Friday (April 11).
Gopichand Hinduja collected the prestigious Asian Business of the Year award at the 17th edition of the ABAs. This year marks the centenary of the family-run business empire which has a presence in 35 countries, from Asia to the Americas.
With an estimated wealth of £13.5 billion, the family also took the top spot in the Asian Rich List, an annual compilation of the 101 wealthiest Asians in the UK. The latest edition of the glossy publication was launched by education secretary Michael Gove and Ramniklal Solanki CBE, editor in chief of the Asian Media and Marketing Group, publishers of Eastern Eye, the Asian Rich List and Garavi Gujarat.
Chief guest Gove paid tribute to the invaluable contribution to the economy and resilience of the Asian community, despite challenging times.
He said: "Today we celebrate some of the most successful Asians in the UK, many of whom started with a small idea and worked their way up the ladder to where they are today.
"There is one consistent thread that binds these individuals together: never being afraid to dream big and work hard to achieve those dreams. There is much to be learned from the famous 'Asian work ethic' and I have no doubt that their stories will continue to inspire future generations across the board."
Among those in the 800-strong audience were billionaires and multimillionaires such as Sri Prakash Lohia of Indorama, Anil Agarwal of Vedanta, Sir Anwar Pervez of Bestway Group, Vijay and Bhikhu Patel of Waymade, Inderneel Singh of the Edwardian Group, Sun Mark's Rami Ranger and Amit and Meeta Patel of Auden McKenzie.
India's High Commissioner Ranjan Mathai was the guest of honour, while leading MPs, politicians and stars from the world of entertainment were also present, including MPs Shailesh Vara, Alok Sharma, Priti Patel and Keith Vaz; Rishi Rich, Nitin Kundra, Ace Bhatti and Indiana Jones actor Bhaskar Patel.
In his remarks, AMG's managing editor Kalpesh Solanki said: "The government must unleash the power of the Asian business community as well as have the right framework to encourage and attract enterprise.
He added: "The Asian success story is that of humble beginnings, working relentlessly, providing for the family, educating our children and giving back to society. And from those very humble beginnings today we see national and multi-national organisations employing thousands of people, generating incredible wealth and paying billions in taxes. We see many businesses innovating and building for the future."
There are nine billionaires in this year's Asian Rich List; of the total 101 entrants, 60 have increased their wealth. In the past 12 months, the combined wealth on the Asian Rich list has gone up by £6bn to £51.5bn.
Shailesh Solanki, executive editor of AMG and one of a panel of four experts who examined British Asian wealth over the last year for the Asian Rich List, said: "The list shows the remarkable strength and diversity of Asian businesses in the UK. Despite the challenges of the general economy many business leaders in the community have seen opportunity and potential and moved quickly to capitalise. It is an inspiring picture and one that should energise entrepreneurs everywhere."
On the evening, as well as the release of the latest edition of the Asian Rich List, 11 winners were honoured with the Asian Business Awards.
Sir Anwar Pervez OBE, chairman, Bestway Cash & Carry, won the Lifetime Achievement Award while the Indian industrial house, Tata Group, was presented the International Business of the Year in association with EY.
A panel comprising Vijay Patel of Waymade, SP Lohia of Indorama and Zameer Choudrey of Bestway Cash and Carry discussed how they grew their businesses and revealed their advice for young entrepreneurs.
Guests also made generous donations to Educate Girls, a charitable programme that is part of the British Asian Trust, set up by Prince Charles, and were entertained by Patrick Alan band.