'Forbes' Irish billionaires' club boasts combined fortune of €18bn
IRELAND'S five billionaires are sitting on a combined fortune of just over €18bn ($25bn), according to US finance magazine 'Forbes'.
The magazine released its latest list of global billionaires, with 1,645 of them controlling $6.3trn (€4.5trn) of wealth. India-based Pallonji Mistry (84), the patriarch of the sub-continent's massive Shapoorji Pallonji construction group, is listed as being worth $12.8bn (€9.3bn) and by virtue of his Irish citizenship is Ireland's richest person by far.
Denis O'Brien (55) is listed by 'Forbes' as Ireland's second richest person, with a $6bn (€4.3bn) fortune. Mr O'Brien controls the Digicel mobile communications group that has spread its reach from beyond the Caribbean to the Pacific and Central America. He plans a major expansion of Digicel's services this year.
He is also the single biggest shareholder in Independent News & Media, publishers of this newspaper, and controls Communicorp, which owns radio stations in Ireland, the UK and in eastern Europe. He has a number of other interests.
John Dorrance (70) has been named by 'Forbes' as Ireland's third richest person, worth $2.5bn (€1.8bn). Mr Dorrance renounced his US citizenship and moved to Ireland before selling his 10.5pc stake in the Campbell's soup firm. 'Forbes' speculates he moved here to avoid paying high capital gains tax in the US.
With a $2.2bn (€1.6bn) fortune, Glen Dimplex founder Martin Naughton (74) is named by 'Forbes' as the country's fourth richest person.
'Forbes' ranks Dermot Desmond (63) as Ireland's fifth-richest, rating his wealth at $2bn (€1.4bn). He has a diverse range of business interests around the world, including a stake in Celtic Football Club. He is also the second largest shareholder in Independent News & Media.
However, 'Forbes' also misses out on a few Irish billionaires. Among them are Hilary Weston and her family, who are behind Brown Thomas, Selfridges and Associated British Foods, the company that owns Primark. They've been estimated to have a €7.8bn fortune. Also missing is Dublin financier Paul Coulson, who owns a large stake in glass container maker Ardagh.
The stake he and his family have in the business is likely to be worth just over €1bn. The Forbes list is topped by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, with a $76bn (€55.2bn) fortune.