Sunday Times Rich List - Jobserve hits £100m

The Sunday Times has published its latest Rich List, providing details of the biggest fortunes in the UK. The richest 1,000 have seen their combined wealth rise to its highest level since the survey began 14 years ago, although this year saw the smallest percentage year-on-year increase due to the economic turmoil and world security concerns over the past 12 months.

Technology fortunes, however, have been harder hit than most over the past year, being more vulnerable to the whims of the global markets. Recruiters have also had a hard time - many entrants featured on our much-read 2001 article entitled 'recruiters make a mint' no longer feature in the Top 100.

Jobserve's owner, Robbie Cowling has bucked the trend in a big way, seeing his estimated fortune rising from £40m last year to a staggering £100m this year. Last year, Jobserve became the first dot com company to be awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise, and in 2000 the site made a remarkable 85% profit on sales of £13m. Despite a downturn in online advertising, Jobserve continues to make serious money - Cowling bought out his partner last year and moved into a purpose-built £1m headquarters in Tiptree, Essex.

At No.7 in the list with an estimated fortune of £1,620 million is Philippe Foriel-Destezet, the boss of Adecco Group, the world's largest recruitment agency. Adecco owns Alfred Marks, and despite the industry-wide shares slump over the past year, Adecco has managed to ride the storm much better than many of its competitors. Foriel-Destezet owns a £1.4 bn stake in the company.

Further down the list comes Neil Frankin, the owner of DataWorkforce, the telecoms recruitment specialist. Although profits for 2001-2 fell to just £500,000, the Sunday Times reckons fortunes will improve greatly over the coming 12 months. Frankin has seen his fortune drop from £102m to £52m since last year's survey.

The largest fortunes on a world scale also reflect the recent changes in fortunes for technology giants - Bill Gates (£37.5bn) has seen no increase in his wealth over the past year, whereas Robson Walton, the key shareholder in 'Wal Mart' is now worth almost twice as much as the Microsoft CEO, with an estimated fortune of £73bn. Larry Ellison (Oracle) has seen his valuation slip from £29bn last year to a 'mere' £16.7bn according to Forbes magazine.

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