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Mrs. Rishi Rich: The ‘First Lady’ of Great Britain Akshata Murty is a Millionaire Software Heiress

Mrs. Rishi Rich: The ‘First Lady’ of Great Britain Akshata Murty is a Millionaire Software Heiress

  • She has a 0.93% stake in Infosys, worth approximately $715 million, making her richer than the late Queen Elizabeth.

Ever since Rishi Sunak first got into the race to be Britain’s prime minister, there’s been a spotlight on his wife, Akshata Murty, her fortunes and her immigration status. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Britain’s new First Lady is the daughter of Infosys founder and billionaire Narayana Murthy. Her mother is Sudha Murty, an engineering teacher, author and social worker, and chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. She has one brother — Rohan Narayana Murty — a technical officer, a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and the founder of the Murty Classical Library of India.

Murty courted controversy earlier this year when it was extensively reported that she held non-domiciled status and hence didn’t have to pay any tax on her earnings from outside the U.K. However, as a BBC report noted, she later agreed to pay UK taxes on her worldwide income. In a series of tweets, she tried clear her position. “In recent days, people have asked questions about my tax arrangements,” she wrote. “To be clear, I have paid tax in this country on my UK income and international tax on my international income,” she added. “This arrangement is entirely legal and how many non-domiciled people are taxed in the UK. But it has become clear that many do not feel it is compatible with my husband’s role as Chancellor.”

Murty or Murthy?

The family uses two different spellings for their last name – Murty and Murthy. While her father prefers the latter, the mother and daughter use the former, as reported by The Scotsman. In an interview with the Telegraph of India, Sudha Murthy explained the reasoning behind the different spellings. She told the paper that dropping the ‘h’ in her version, she said she shows her independence. So when the two decided to marry, she told her to-be husband that she wasn’t convinced of the spelling. “Why should I be M-u-r-t-h-y? That’s the wrong spelling.”

Richer Than the Queen

Murty has a 0.93% stake in Infosys, worth approximately $715 million. Together the couple’s estimated net worth of is $830 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, an annual ranking of the wealthiest people in Britain. 

Murty began her career in finance in California before starting her own fashion label, Akshata Designs, which launched its first collection in 2011. She told Vogue India she worked with artists in remote Indian villages to create her designs, which were about “authenticity, craftsmanship and protecting a rich heritage” She told the magazine that her love of clothes “baffled” her mother, “a no-nonsense engineer” confused as to why her daughter “would spend so much time creating different outfits from my wardrobe.” However, the Guardian reported that the business collapsed within three years.

In the UK, she and Sunak are listed as directors of a venture capital firm, Catamaran Ventures, which was founded by her father. She is also listed on Companies House as the director of Digme Fitness, a high-end gym chain that went into administration after struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her LinkedIn profile also lists her as a director of New & Lingwood, which sells high-end menswear.

According to a BBC report, Murty’s shares in Infosys “became a subject of controversy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when the firm was under pressure to halt its operations in Moscow. In April, the BBC was told Infosys was closing its office in Russia.

Humble Beginnings 

Despite her family’s immense wealth, Murty came from humble beginnings. In a letter to his daughter, published in a 2013 compilation, “Legacy: Letters from Eminent Parents to Their Daughters,” by Sudha Murty, her father recalled how he heard the news of her birth in Hubli in April 1980 from a colleague because the family could not afford a telephone. “Your mother and I were young then and struggling to find our feet in our careers,” he wrote. After Arvind Kher conveyed the news to him, he asked Murthy how it felt to be a new father. “I replied that, for the first time in my life, I felt the compelling need to become a better person,” he wrote. 

When she was just a few months old, Murty was sent to live with her paternal grandparents as her mother, Sudha Murty, and her father advanced their careers in Mumbai. A year later, in 1981, Murthy co-founded Infosys, an IT services company that would make him one of India’s richest individuals. “Life has changed for us since then and there is enough money, but you know our lifestyle continues to be simple,” he added. Although he retired from the board in 2019, Narayana Murthy retains the title of ‘chairman emeritus. He has been listed among the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time by Fortune Magazine and has amassed a fortune estimated at $4.5billion.

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The strong work ethics of her parents help install a focus on education and hard work on Murty and her brother. There was no TV in their home to make time for “things like studying, reading, discussions and meeting friends,” Murthy wrote in “Legacy.”

Stanford and Sunak

After finishing her schooling in India, Murty went on to study economics and French at the private liberal Claremont McKenna College in California. She then earned a diploma at a fashion college before working at Deloitte and Unilever and then completed her MBA at Stanford University. It was here that she met Sunak. Sunak told The Sunday Times that as soon as he met Murty, he knows there was something, so he even changed his schedule “to be in a particular class” and spend more time with her. “I didn’t really need to take it but I did it anyway so we could sit next to each other.”

He also revealed to the Times that they are play opposites of each other. ”I’m incredibly tidy, she’s very messy,” he said. “I’m much more organized, she is more spontaneous.” 

The couple married in 2009 in Bangalore. The Economics Times described the wedding as a “no-frills” event attended by close friends and family, noting that the Murthys “are known to respect their privacy.” The couple has two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka.

In “Legacy” Murthy admitted that he had “mixed feelings” when he first heard about his daughter’s choice. “I, too, was a little sad and jealous when you told us you had found your life partner,” he wrote. “But when I met Rishi and found him to be all that you had described him to be – brilliant, handsome, and, most importantly, honest – I understood why you let your heart be stolen.”

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