Grosvenor has made a pre-tax loss for the first time since the early 1990s, after a slump in the value of assets from Liverpool to Hong Kong wiped £1bn off profits.

The company, which is wholly owned by the Duke and boasts among its assets some of London’s most exclusive addresses, reported a pre-tax loss of £593.9m in 2008, compared with a profit of £524m the previous year.

The Duke of Westminster is the richest Briton, with an estimated wealth of close to £7bn – the UK’s only richer resident is India-born Lakshmi Mittal.

Total returns on its property assets were minus 4.1% in 2008, or minus 8.6% at constant exchange rates, compared with 14.4% in 2007. Net asset value fell 7.4% to £2.8bn.

Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, The Times