IRELAND'S 300 wealthiest people now have a combined fortune valued at more than the entire state of Ecuador. The Sunday Independent Rich List 2013 reveals that the country's billionaires and multi-millionaires have a net worth of more than €66bn, which is larger than the South American country's GDP.
That is almost as large as the entire Slovakian economy.
Our richest 300 saw their wealth grow by almost 6.3 per cent, or €3.9bn, last year. The rebound in global stock markets was the biggest contributor to this rise. The first Sunday Independent Rich List in 2010 showed that the wealthy elite had fortunes worth less than €50bn.
The country has 11 billionaires, topped by Indian-born industrialist Pallonji Mistry with a fortune of €8.07bn. He became an Irish citizen a decade ago. Telecoms tycoon Denis O'Brien is the richest Irish-born man on the list with a net worth of €3.8bn. There's a new billionaire this year, as Ardagh's Paul Coulson zooms up the rankings. His giant tin can and glass bottle maker Ardagh is heading for US stock markets later this year and could be worth up to €3bn. Coulson holds a 36 per cent stake in the business.
The Sunday Independent Rich List 2013 has also found that there are 105 people in this country with net assets or fortunes of more than €100m each.
The economic devastation of recent years has claimed many scalps and seen fortunes lost, but it has also opened the door for new entrants to the list. New entrepreneurs are taking the place of those who have fallen. There are 38 newcomers this year, including Limerick's Collison brothers who sold their first company as teenagers for €3m. Their latest venture, Stripe.com, based in Silicon Valley, could be worth close to $500m (€385m).
Green energy, technology and high-end manufacturing and engineering are hot sectors this year, with the likes of C&F Tooling's John Flaherty and Jones Engineering's Eric Kinsella new to our list. Retail, property, leisure and private equity fortunes were hit hardest by the downturn.