When Tiny Rowland announced his impending retirement from Lonrho last month he took the chance to catalogue his wealth. The list was enviably long; over £200 million in cash, 50 million Lonrho shares, £100 million worth of property and anywhere between £30-50 million held in gems. For good measure he also added that he had no borrowings and was a 'fully paid-up member of the Inland Revenue'.
Yet Rowland is not alone among those who have managed to combine their role as head of a major public company with lucrative outside interests. Take Amstrad's Alan Sugar. Apart from his costly involvement in Tottenham Hotspur he has managed to build a property portfolio worth well over £100 million. And then there is Trevor Hemmings, head of Scottish & Newcastle's leisure division. He has supplemented his shareholding in the brewing group(currently worth £88 million) with a major stake in Wainhomes, the recently floated housebuilder. In September he added a further £50 million to his fortune with the sale of several casinos to Ladbroke (which still leaves him with a range of holdings that include a racecourse, stud farm and dairy).
Some, by contrast, have much of their wealth tied up in 'outside interests' while still dominating a much larger public company through management rather than ownership. Sir David Alliance is perhaps a classic example. He owns less than 1% of textiles group Coats Viyella, where he is chairman. His wealth, however, comes from his family's majority stake in the quoted N Brown mail order group, which is currently worth over £190 million. Making the first million may indeed be hard. But from then on, it obviously gets a lot easier.