Estonians Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus among the richest 250 in the UK

The founders of the money transfer company, Wise, Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, are among the richest 250 people in the United Kingdom, according to the Times newspaper.

Käärmann is listed 198th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2022 with the net worth of £865 million – and he shares the spot with Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell, McCartney’s current wife and a transport entrepreneur.

Käärmann is a new entry in the Rich List. He currently owns 18.2% of Wise, the company he helped co-found, and that stake is worth £824.5 million.

“Käärmann, 41, was last year placed on a list ‘deliberate tax defaulters’ by HM Revenue & Customs (the UK version of the tax board – editor) for failing to pay a historic bill for £720,495. He was hit with a £365,651 fine – a sum that makes those early bank charges look modest. A Wise spokesman later said that Käärmann has since ‘devoted more time to keeping his personal admin in order’,” the Times said.

Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann in 2013 in London, when building up their company, then known as TransferWise. Photo by Wise.

Taavet Hinrikus, the other founder of Wise, is ranked 247th in the Sunday Times Rich List with the net worth of £650 million. The Times hasn’t dedicated an article to him, but he owns a lesser state in the company he helped co-found than Käärmann, hence the difference in the wealth.

Wise has lost over a half of its market cap in less than a year

In July 2021, Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, started trading at the London Stock Exchange and after its first day of trading, the company’s shares went up by 10%. The shares opened at £8.00 and closed at £8.80, valuing the company at £8.75 billion – or US$11 billion. The company’s market capitalisation at the time of writing this article – on 7 July 2022 – was £3.79 billion or US$4.77 billion.

TransferWise was launched as a peer-to-peer money transfer startup in London in early 2011. The firm started with making transfers between the British pound and the euro, over the years expanding to other currencies. In 2014, the British businessman Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, invested US$25 million in the TransferWise.

Taavet Hinrikus (left), Sir Richard Branson (middle) and Kristo Käärmann in 2014. Photo by Wise.

By 2019, TransferWise was the most valuable fintech startup in Europe, valued at US$3.5 billion. By July 2020, its value had increased to US$5 billion, making the founders – Käärmann and Hinrikus – the wealthiest Estonians. In 2020, the company made a £30.9 million (US$43 million/€36 million) profit on a revenue of £421 million (US$587 million/€491 million).

In early 2021, TransferWise shortened its name to simply Wise. The company is headquartered in London but retains a sizable office also in Estonia.

The wealthiest family in the UK are Indians

The first in the Sunday Times Rich List 2022 are Sri and Gopi Hinduja and their family with the net worth of £28.472 billion. They’re the owners of the Hinduja Group, an Anglo-Indian transnational conglomerate that is present in eleven sectors including automotive, oil and specialty chemicals, banking and finance, IT, cyber security, health care, trading, infrastructure project development, media and entertainment, power and real estate.

The second are Sir James Dyson and his family with the net worth of £23 billion. The Dyson family is behind the world-famous vacuum cleaner and other household products.

The third are David and Simon Reuben and their family with the net worth of £22.265 billion. They’re in the property and internet business.

The Sunday Times Rich List is a list of the wealthiest people or families resident in the United Kingdom ranked by net wealth. The list is published as a magazine supplement by the Sunday Times since 1989. It is not limited to British citizens and it includes individuals and families born overseas but who predominantly work and/or live in Britain.

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