A ticket for the trip of a lifetime into space is at the centre of a stellar divorce battle.

The glamorous wife of Ashish Thakkar, once described as Africa's youngest billionaire, is taking her husband to the English High Court next week to argue his precious £160,000 ($273,000) ticket into space should be included as part of the divorce settlement.

Thakkar, 35, who was born in Leicester but grew up in east Africa, now faces having to sell his cherished ticket to pay off his wife.

Although Meera Manek, 33, a successful food writer and blogger, insists her soon-to-be ex-husband is a billionaire, he claims he has just £445,532. To add to the confusion, the Sunday Times Rich List estimated Thakkar's wealth at £500 million in 2015 but omitted him from the list last time.


The High Court will now decide over the course of a five-day hearing beginning tomorrow just what Thakkar owns. A further trial will then decide how much Manek should receive. The legal bills alone could reach 1m.

Thakkar was among the first super-rich to sign up for Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space flight and has spoken of his eagerness to be the first East African in space.

The prepaid ticket is fully refundable until the date of the flight, which has been beset by delays including a crash in 2014 in which a test pilot was killed.

"The Virgin Galactic flight will be discussed in court," one source told the Daily Telegraph. "It will be considered as part of the investigation into his total wealth."

Manek claims her husband is the beneficiary of a complex series of companies held offshore. But he has told the High Court that the beneficiaries of the Mara Group, his IT, banking and property empire, were his mother and sister.

Thakkar's family settled in Leicester after being forced out of Uganda in the 1970s by Idi Amin. They moved back to Africa to live in Rwanda in 1993 but had to flee again a year later after the genocide. They then moved to Uganda. Thakkar now resides in Dubai.

The couple married in Uganda in 2008 but separated in 2013.