Ronan an unlikely business partner for 'a legend'
THE son of a grain importer, Richard Barrett's eventual business partnership with Johnny Ronan is probably as unlikely as the easy-going relationship that developed between "Chuckle Brothers" Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.
Born in Ballina, Co Mayo, 56-year-old Barrett hails from well-to-do stock. He attended Castleknock College and it was while there as a boarder that he met fellow student Johnny Ronan. Barrett went on to Trinity College, where he studied law and economics. He qualified as a barrister in 1974.
Seven years later he and Ronan attempted their first land deal, but with the economic environment here far from healthy, it would be another few years before they eventually teamed up to form their unlikely duo.
Barrett's persona is far from the brash, limelight-grabbing effervescence of Ronan. With fluent French and Spanish, Barrett is more in tune with more placid pursuits, keen on fine art and wine.
Despite that, he and Ronan were apparently well able for karaoke and imbibing ferocious local brews in China as they attempted to get their foot in the door of the thriving economy.
Barrett's business acumen is something of a legend in corporate circles, as is the pair's fondness for initiating litigation. Barrett has been spending time in Shanghai, of late, where he oversees China Real Estate Opportunities, an property investment vehicle backed by Treasury Holdings. He owns a villa in Ibiza.