A FORMER Aer Lingus executive could be in line for a €100m payout as investors speculated that the exploration company he founded may be sold.
Tullow Oil's Aidan Heavey, already wealthy, could become one of Ireland's richest men after shares in his company jumped on the Dublin and London stock exchanges yesterday following reports that Norway's Statoil is looking at buying the company.
Many of the company's loyal Irish shareholders would also be in line for payouts.
A sale might be opposed by the 58-year-old, who built the company from scratch after leaving Aer Lingus. Still, Mr Heavey has expensive tastes and is unlikely to have much trouble knowing what to do with any extra money. He has 10 cars, including a Lamborghini jeep and a Bentley Continental.
Mr Heavy's wife, Lorraine, a former singer who made it into the Irish top 10 with the song 'Peaceful Paradise', is also a well-known socialite.
The son of a west of Ireland fruit importer, Mr Heavey left Aer Lingus in 1985 to set up Tullow despite no previous involvement in the oil industry.
The father-of-three put his savings into the new company, mortgaged his Dublin home and sold a collection of vintage cars.
Tullow is one of the great Irish success stories and the sale of the company would be the biggest ever sale of a company founded by an Irishman.
Tullow's success hinges on exploration in a part of the world not popular with the giant oil companies. It has made massive finds in Uganda and Ghana and the company has assets in 15 African nations from Mauritania to Madagascar although it has recently shifted focus to the Arctic.
Tullow saw its share price jump by the largest amount in 11 months yesterday following the takeover rumours.