Akshata Murty, the first lady of the United Kingdom, is ‘namma hudugi’ (our girl) from Bengaluru. Born in Hubballi, the birthplace of her mother Sudha Murthy, in northern Karnataka, few could have imagined that 42 years later, this Indian citizen’s home would stand at 10 Downing Street. After graduating in Bengaluru, she moved to Claremont McKenna College in California, where she graduated with a double major in economics and French and later earned a fashion design degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. She worked briefly at Deloitte and Unilever before starting her MBA at Stanford, where she met Rishi Sunak. Of the two Murthy children, Akshata has inherited her famous family’s entrepreneurial genes. “I come from an entrepreneurial family – my mother on the social side through the foundation world and my father on the business side. I was brought up with the idea that entrepreneurship can change people’s lives,” Akshata was quoted as saying in an article on the Stanford Graduate School of Business website. She grew up in a middle-class house in Jayanagar, a suburb of Bengaluru, with no birthday parties or much pocket money. “She is a simple family girl. Her middle-class upbringing has kept her family’s value system intact,” said a source close to the family. Akshata is very private and has tried to keep the lowest profile possible. But her fashion choices and penchant for expensive clothes are fodder for the paparazzi in the UK. Her recent attempt to lure the press by offering waiting reporters outside her London home caused a stir for the £38 used mugs.
Rishi Sunak, UK’s first PM of Indian descent, is a story of many firsts
Her incredible wealth ($600 million), from her 1% stake in Infosys, nearly derailed her husband’s ambitions as prime minister in the final round. As an Indian citizen, Akshata had opted for non-domiciled status, which saved her from paying UK tax on her non-UK income. Though perfectly legal, it caused a storm when Akshata later agreed to give up her non-dom status and pay UK taxes on all her earnings from then on. The couple have two children, Krishna and Anoushka, and are frequent visitors to Bengaluru. They were last seen in public in the city before their uncle Rohan Murty’s wedding to Aparna Krishnan in November 2019. Sudha Murthy, a prolific writer, has dedicated her recent books to her two granddaughters. Akshata’s love for fashion from her early years surprised her engineering parents. That may have fueled her entrepreneurial ambitions and prompted her to work with local artisans in India and eventually she launched Akshata Designs, a fashion label that has preserved Indian tradition and craftsmanship in 2009. It ended in 2013. In 2013, Murthy’s family office became Catamaran. Ventures established in the UK. Catamaran manages over $1 billion in various asset classes. As director of Catamaran Ventures UK, along with Sunak (who later resigned as director), she took on another mantle as an investor spotting New Age winners. Some investments include investments in a British company affiliated with Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria and New & Lingwood, aka the quintessential English gentleman’s outfitter. Murty was under intense scrutiny after the gym chain Digme Fitness, which she co-owned, demanded taxpayers’ money during the pandemic to pay its staff under the Chancellor’s Retention Scheme. The couple has a huge real estate portfolio. They live in a £7 million mansion in Kensington. They also own a flat in Kensington and a mansion in Rishi’s constituency in Yorkshire and a penthouse in California.
Explained: Why Narayan Murthy’s Daughter Akshata Changed Her Tax Status in the UK