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Saturday, Jul 02, 2022

Rishi Sunak's Billionaire Wife Akshata Murty Builds Ties To World's Super-Rich

Rishi Sunak's Billionaire Wife Akshata Murty Builds Ties To World's Super-Rich

Akshata Murty describes Catamaran Ventures on LinkedIn as a family office based in London and Bangalore that focuses in the UK on local brands

Akshata Murty, the wife of UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has developed links to some of the world's richest families through her private investment firm, Catamaran Ventures UK.

Previously unreported filings show that Murty's family office was an early backer of dara5, a private investment community for "the next generation of global leaders," co-founded in 2019 by a member of Qatar's ruling dynasty, the Al-Thani family. Catamaran has also acquired a stake in The New Craftsmen, a luxury British furniture marketplace whose shareholders include Rupert Murdoch's oldest daughter, Prudence, and the Al Tajir family, the Emirati owners of the Park Tower hotel in London's Knightsbridge district.

Murty, 42, who was born in India and is still an Indian citizen, has a net worth of about $1.2 billion thanks to her stake in Infosys Ltd., the software giant founded by her father Narayana Murty, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The Bangalore-based company's shares have surged more than 2,000% since Murty was first publicly disclosed as a shareholder in 2001, though they have struggled this year in the face of a broad tech selloff.

Catamaran Ventures is the name of the Murty family's main investment entity based in Bangalore. Narayana Murty is chairman of the firm, which employs about 15 staff in India overseeing holdings worth more than $1 billion spanning e-sports, insurance and Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

Akshata Murty describes Catamaran Ventures on LinkedIn as a family office based in London and Bangalore that focuses in the UK on local brands that need capital, management expertise and network partners. She is the British branch's only director and shareholder.

Murty has helped to run some of her UK investments. She became a director in 2017 of New & Lingwood, an outfitter for students of England's prestigious Eton College - Prime Minister Boris Johnson's alma mater - which charges tuition fees of about £45,000 a year. She stepped down from the role in February. A spokeswoman for New & Lingwood declined to comment.

In 2017 Murty also became a director at Digme, a London-based fitness company that went into administration in February. Murty, who is still a director, owned a 4.4% stake as of February. Catamaran's other investments include a holding alongside British hedge fund manager Hugh Sloane in the company that launched Wendy's restaurants in India.

Murty's Wealth Hits Sunak Popularity


The revelation in April that Murty enjoyed "non-domiciled" tax status in the UK, meaning she paid no local taxes on overseas income, has pushed her wealth - as well as her husband's - into the news just as a cost-of-living crisis began to bite across Britain. The furore prompted her to relinquish that status in April, and contributed to a significant decline in Sunak's approval ratings.

Murty didn't provide a response to a request for comment, while a spokesperson for Sunak declined to comment.

The chancellor, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker and hedge fund manager with the Children's Investment Fund and Theleme Partners, was previously seen as the front-runner to succeed Johnson as prime minister, but disclosures about his family wealth fueled concerns that he is out of touch with ordinary Britons.

Sunak on Thursday announced a 25% windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas firms and pledged cash handouts to millions of Britons facing sharp increases in energy bills and other outgoings.

Murty and Sunak met while studying for MBAs at Stanford University in mid-2000s. They married in 2009, and still own a property in California, a penthouse overlooking the ocean. In April, Sunak referred himself to the independent adviser on ministers' interests over his wife's tax status and his past ownership of a US green card. He was cleared of breaching the ministerial code.

Sunak previously declared in the official parliamentary register that Murty owns Catamaran Ventures, but has not given details of its investments. He transferred his 50% stake in the company to Murty when he became a member of Parliament in 2015.

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