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Business briefing: ‘Fat cat’ Green no longer a billionaire as wealth halves

Stormy waters:
Sir Philip Green,
pictured on
holiday on his
superyacht, has
seen his fortune
plunge due to
pensions debt PICTURE: REX

SIR Philip Green is out of the billionaires’ club as a pensions black hole wiped out half his fortune in the last year, leaving his company worthless, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.

The retail mogul’s wealth is estimated to have fallen £1.05billion to £950million. Meanwhile The Arcadia Group, which includes Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, is said to have lost all value as pension debt hit £565million.

Sir Philip and his wife Tina are now ranked 156th on the list, down from joint 66th last year. Their stake in Arcadia was last year valued at £750million.

Sir Philip’s wealth peaked at almost £5billion in 2007 and it is the first time in 17 years he is not labelled a billionaire.

Robert Watts, who compiled the list, said he struggled to envisage the tycoon returning to the ‘upper echelons’. He said: ‘Sir Philip Green may have clung on to his knighthood but we can no longer justify his status as one of the UK’s billionaires.’

Sir Philip’s wealth freefall comes after sustained criticism against him and calls for him to lose his knighthood.

He was lambasted over the collapse of BHS, affecting 11,000 jobs, 19,000 pension holders and leaving a £571million pensions hole.

The tycoon, who sold the department store chain to Dominic Chappell for £1 before it plunged into administration, subsequently agreed to pay £363million towards the deficit.

Sir Philip has also faced a slew of allegations, including groping a female executive and making a racial slur. He denied his behaviour was criminal or amounted to gross misconduct.

Topping this year’s list are the Hinduja brothers, Sri and Gopi, whose £22billion fortune is more than £3billion higher than that of David and Simon Reuben.

In third place is Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the boss of chemicals company Ineos, with £18.15billion.

£4bn for eyedrops? Better go to Specsavers

Eyewatering: Specsavers till showing the price for Martyn Chidlow’s purchase PICTURES: PA

A SPECSAVERS customer had to rub his eyes when he popped in to buy eyedrops — and was asked to pay £4billion.

Martyn Chidlow (below) called at the store in Wrexham, north Wales, for a bottle of drops for dry eyes.

When £4,031,626,711.51 popped up on the till — more than half the annual NHS bill for Wales — he ‘couldn’t believe’ what he was seeing.

The 55-year-old said: ‘I’m glad I’d just had my eyes tested. I started giggling and told the assistant, “I guess I’ll have to use my card”.’ The company said: ‘Looks like our store scanners should have gone to Specsavers.’

BUSINESS BITES

■ YOUNG people who started work in the middle of the financial crisis ten years ago face lower pay and worse job prospects than other employees, according to a study by the Resolution Foundation thinktank.

■ EMPLOYERS are being urged to do more to tackle mental health after a study of 400 workers by The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health found most would not discuss anxiety or depression with a manager.

■ THE ‘jobs boom’ will continue but pay rises will remain subdued for all but new starters and workers with key skills, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development finds. Basic rises will stay at two per cent.

■ A STUDENT has developed a range of frames for specs — made from coffee grounds. Ryan Davren, 24, of Glasgow, mixes grounds usually sent to landfill with flax seed to create the frames for his brand, Flat White.

■ MPS are calling for a legal duty of care to make sure banks always act in customers’ best interests. The treasury committee also said branches and free-to-use cash machines should be preserved.