Black gold pays for Aberdeen

Aberdeen is now home to more multi-millionaires than any UK city outside London, according to new research.

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

If someone asked you to name Britain’s second city, what would you go for? Birmingham? Edinburgh? Manchester? Glasgow? It’s unlikely that Aberdeen would get many votes – but according to online news service Wealth-Bulletin, the third biggest city in Scotland is now the second wealthiest city in the UK.

A whopping 0.021 percent of the Granite City’s 200,000 inhabitants have more than £20m in the bank, which is more than twice as many as in Cheshire and North Yorkshire, for example. The richest 50 families have amassed a total fortune of £3.4bn, and this isn’t family money we’re talking about here – about 90% of these multi-millionaires are self-made (the highest proportion in the UK).

As you’d expect, about 80% of this wealth comes from Aberdeen’s most important industry: black gold. Of course, this begs the question: what happens when the oil runs out, as it soon will? Will the city sink into obscurity? But for now, with the oil price soaring, these rich Aberdonians are getting richer. ‘As a barrel of oil has now reached $100 and is likely to move further upwards, the wealth of many of these individuals is set to rise throughout 2008,’ says Wealth-Bulletin.

Top of the list is Sir Ian Wood, head of the John Wood Group and the biggest fish in North Sea oil (so to speak). His company has doubled in value since flotation, and Sir Ian’s stake – plus his fishing business – apparently gives him a net worth of £679m. Abbot Group chairman Alasdair Locke and shipping family the Craig Group also feature in the top five. Though not all of the biggest hitters are oilmen: Stewart Milne, head of the construction group of the same name, is in second place with a £400m fortune, while Grampian Foods boss Fred Duncan lies third with £280m in the bank.

So what do you do with a nine figure bank balance in Aberdeen? According to the council, you’re spoilt for choice – apparently the city is blessed with ‘bustling shopping malls, a wide variety of entertainment and leisure amenities, and a vibrant arts scene.’ You could even buy the local football club, as Stewart Milne did with Aberdeen FC. And of course if your idea of fun is playing golf while being sand-blasted by a howling sea breeze, you’re in for a treat.

True, Aberdeen isn’t quite the international metropolis that London is (although it’s so far north that most people down South probably remain ignorant of its charms). But as a breeding ground for the super-rich, it’s clearly second to none - for now...

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