Business Irish

Sunday 21 September 2014

Rich List 2014: 1-49

Published 09/03/2014 | 02:30

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THEY’VE DONE WELL: The richest people in Ireland, from left, Pallonji Mistry, Hilary Weston and Denis O’Brien, who is generating revenues fast approaching $3bn per year
MAKING OVER €100m IN A YEAR: John P Grayken
Margaret Heffernan of Dunnes Stores
Margaret Heffernan of Dunnes Stores

4 John P Grayken €3.9bn

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Finance, up €100m

Texas-based private-equity mogul John P Grayken picked up Irish citizenship in the 1990s. Grayken is one of the shrewdest turnaround kings about, with his Lone Star fund having spent over €70bn on different deals and assets over the last 20 years.

The Pittsburgh-educated economist worked on Wall Street before setting up on his own in 1995. Grayken made a fortune during the Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s, buying low and selling high.

The initial successes were in the banking sectors of Japan and South Korea. Now he's focused almost entirely on property and property-related loans. He has raised over $45bn to invest in distressed assets.

Ireland has featured heavily on Grayken's radar over the last two years, with Lone Star kicking almost every tyre going. It spent €675m buying a bundle of property loans from AIB and has been chasing €1bn worth of loans associated with developer Michael O'Flynn and the €7bn Anglo UK book.

Lone Star buys these loans at a discount, tidies up the assets and waits for markets to improve before flipping them at a mega profit. Company documents show that the Irish arm of Lone Star has invested $817m in various deals over the last year. Grayken is understood to have a yacht in the Caribbean as well as a fine period mansion in Surrey.

5 Pearse Lyons €1.8bn

Animal healthcare, up €200m

Louth animal healthcare magnate Pearse Lyons is working on major plans to grow his hugely successful Alltech business in the extremely lucrative Chinese market. The company is in supercharged growth phase and is making buckets of money. A couple of transformational acquisitions are said to be on the way too.

Biochemist Lyons, 69, began in the Harp factory in Dundalk before moving to the US to seek his fortune. He found it in yeast. Lyons was able to see the potential of using yeast and yeast derivatives in animal feed and more specifically in animal healthcare products.

He owns all the shares in Kentucky-headquartered Alltech, which is now one of the top-10 players in its sector with sales of over $1bn and a master plan to increase that to $4bn in jump time.

Lyons spends around 300 days of the year travelling around the globe in his bombardier jet visiting Alltech's operations. He also has a brewing business, with a facility in Carlow.

6 John Dorrance €1.65bn

Inheritance, up €10m

Dorrance, an heir to the Campbell's Soup fortune, moved to Ireland in 1994 with his Finnish wife, to avail of our benevolent tax regime. He renounced his US citizenship, becoming an Irish citizen as part of the process.

The 70-year-old sold most of his 10.5 per cent stake in the company for around €1.2bn in 1996. Dorrance – nicknamed "Ippy" – also owns major tracts of land in Devils Tower, Wyoming, as well as some prime real estate in London.

His son John Dorrance IV has been a regular fixture on the London society circuit, once dating TV star Donna Air.

7 Dermot Desmond €1.45bn

Investor, up €50m

Dermot Desmond is Ireland's own version of Warren Buffett. His investments over the last decade and a half, ranging from technology, media, shares and debt, have generated quite terrific returns for the former stockbroker.

Desmond set up NCB stockbrokers in 1981 as a means to disrupt the sleepy Irish market. It worked in spades and he sold the business for £39m in 1994.

He spent the next decade becoming a billionaire, through a series of daring stock market gambles or other currency deals. Desmond's biggest score – so far – was when he bought London City Airport for €30m in the early 1990s, selling it 15 years later for over €1.1bn.

He owns a 22 per cent stake in the listed Mountain Province Diamonds, which is developing the biggest new diamond mine in the world up in the icy tundra of Canada's north-western territories.

Desmond, 62, controls Celtic football club, having earlier made a mint when flipping shares in Manchester United before it was sold to the Glazers.

Other assets include a chunk of the Barchester Healthcare nursing home chain, as well as fast-growing biometric technology firm Daon – which could be worth an absolute fortune.

The Macroom man has also become the second largest shareholder of INM, as well as having positions in Datalex and Ladbrokes.

With the exception of a €30m sale of his Betdaq gambling platform to Ladbrokes, 2013 seemed to be a low-key affair for Desmond. When the swashbuckling IFSC-based financier is this quiet, it generally means that he's up to something big. And then at the start of 2014 he netted €180m from the sale of his stake in online payments group Optimal – representing a near nine-fold return in just a few years.

There have also been whispers that Desmond has been making an absolute killing in the corporate debt markets over the last year. He has traded part of the $175m debt issue of Opko Health as well as getting involved in Peach Group Holdings, one of the world's largest institutional funders of life settlements and other financial products. Desmond has also bought debt in Intel, Newmount Mining and other blue chips in recent years.

He is an owner of the uber-posh Sandy Lane hotel in Barbados and is also building a new €150m luxury resort in the nearby Grenadines.

Son Brett is married to popstar Andrea Corr, while other son Ross got engaged to fashion designer Stephanie Smart, part of the Made in Chelsea set.


Industry, up €20m

Naughton is Ireland's most successful industrialist, with his Glen Dimplex heating and electrical equipment empire a massive global success story.

It's the world's biggest heater company. And it's all run from the nerve centre up in Louth.

The business started in Newry in 1973; with Naughton, 72, and his partner Lochlann Quinn building up bulk through the acquisition of first Dimplex and then Morphy Richards.

Constant reinvestment saw Glen Dimplex generate real scale and develop brands such as Belling and Morphy Richards.

Naughton was one of the first Irish businessmen to get into the Chinese market. The company now has sales well north of €1.6bn and employs over 8,500 staff worldwide.

Glen Dimplex is an unlimited company so its full finances are difficult to penetrate. However, Northern Ireland subsidiary Glen Electric showed sales slip 3.5 per cent to €974m last year, with pre-tax profits down 4 per cent to €72m.

He owns a fantastic stately pile at Stackallen in Meath. His other assets include large swathes of the IFSC, renewable energy assets as well as a chunk of the posh Merrion Hotel and the Michelin-starred Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud.

As well as being a major Irish art collector, Naughton is one of the most generous philanthropists on the island, donating to the arts and education. He donates half of his annual earnings to good causes.

Irish Independent

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