Billionaire Duke of Westminster gets £47m property windfall despite loss

Saleha Riaz
·2-min read
Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster, with his mother Natalia Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster. Photo: Getty Images
Hugh Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster, with his mother Natalia Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster. Photo: Getty Images

The Grosvenor Group, a property company owned by the Duke of Westminster, swung to a loss in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, but still paid out a dividend of £47m ($66m), up from £46.3m the previous year.

This dividend will go to the duke’s family and its trusts.

Hugh Grosvenor, or Hughie, dubbed 'the most eligible bachelor in the world’, is the seventh Duke of Westminster, supposedly richer than Queen Elizabeth and godfather to Prince George.

He inherited the title from his father, who died in 2016, and is a major shareholder of Grosvenor Estates, which has an £11.1bn portfolio of assets. 

According to the Sunday Times Rich List for 2020, Hughie and his family had an estimated fortune of £10.3bn. Hughie donated £12.5m to the NHS last year to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.

His family includes his mother Natalia Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster, and his three sisters: Lady Tamara Katherine Grosvenor, Lady Edwina Louise Grosvenor and Lady Viola Georgina Grosvenor.

Aged 30, Grosvenor is credited with the entire family fortune because, according to a Bloomberg report, the Grosvenor Estate is subject to a 1933 Act of Parliament, the Grosvenor Estate Act, which effectively restricts inheritance to the male line.

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His company owns chunks of properties in London’s most sought-after locations, including West End, where the duke is the landlord of almost 1,000 businesses, as well as Mayfair and Belgravia in London. 

Along with this, it also owns estates in Cheshire, Lancashire and Scotland. Internationally, it has properties in 60 cities including Vancouver and Tokyo.

The Grosvenor Group is one of three parts of the Grosvenor Estate, which also includes the Family Office and Wheatsheaf Group. As Duke, Hughie is chairman of the trustees of the Estate.

The group reported a £311m pre-tax loss for 2020, compared with a pre-tax profit of roughly £157m in 2019.

It said this was due to financial support provided to vulnerable tenants affected by the pandemic, increased bad debt provisions, and delays in a number of sales.

In London, the company introduced rent waivers for many retailers, charities and food operators for three months in the first lockdown, while small independent businesses were offered a 50% reduction in their rent across the second and third lockdowns.

CEO Mark Preston said: “Our 2020 financial performance was poor by historical standards, although contextually resilient."

Looking forward, he said “our strong financial capacity, remaining at £1.7bn, gives us the strength and flexibility to capitalise on investment opportunities, as well as the confidence to continue delivering longer-term projects with a strong social impact.”

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