Business Irish

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Ireland's Rich List 1-10

LONDON - APRIL 30: Hilary Weston and Galen Weston attend Selfridges' 100th birthday party at Selfridges on April 30, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Nick Harvey/WireImage)
LONDON - APRIL 30: Hilary Weston and Galen Weston attend Selfridges' 100th birthday party at Selfridges on April 30, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Nick Harvey/WireImage)
Irish Digicel Group Chairman Denis O'Brien talks during the Special Session on Haiti, on the second day of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos on January 28, 2010, which is to be attended by 2,500 top politicians, captains of industries and civil society leaders.Financial reforms, climate talks and Haiti's reconstruction are set to dominate the agenda of the world's elites heading up to the Swiss mountain resort of Davos this week for their annual meeting. AFP PHOTO PIERRE VERDY (Photo credit should read PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON - MARCH 05: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) (L-R) Entrepreneur Dermot Desmond, a guest, singer Andrea Corr and her father Gerry Corr attend the after party following the press night of 'Dancing At Lughnasa', at Baltic on March 5, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
Sunderland's Chairman Niall Quinn (L) and majority shareholder, Ellis Short (R) before their team lose 3-2 to Chelsea in the English Premier League football match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, north-east England, on May 24, 2009. AFP PHOTO/GRAHAM STUART - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo. (Photo credit should read GRAHAM STUART/AFP/Getty Images)

Meet Ireland’s richest man – you probably never heard of him before



The richest Irish person in the world is someone few people will have heard about or even seen.

Palolonji Shapoorji Mistry owns 18.4 per cent of Tata, India’s largest private conglomerate, which has interests in real estate, hotels, cars, heavy industry, tea — in short, everything.

The 79-year-old has seen his wealth grow massively with the rebound in asset values over the last year. India and the emerging economies have recovered strongly from the global crash. While much of its business is in India and the Far East, in 2008 Tata bought Jaguar and Rover for €2.5bn.

Mistry became an Irish citizen in 2003 “on the basis of his marriage to an Irishborn national,” as the then Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan told the Dail in 2008. His wife Pat (Patsy) Perin Dubash was born in September 1939 in Hatch Street Nursing House in Dublin.

Mistry’s two sons, Cyrus and Shapoor, have automatically become Irish citizens because of their mother’s birth here.

Mistry renounced his Indian citizenship, though he remains resident in Mumbai. He owns a stake in the Taj Mahal Hotel which was attacked by Islamic terrorists in 2008.

Mistry is an extraordinarilly low-profile billionaire, never giving interviews and rarely being seen out in public. Within the extended Tata Group, he is described as the “Phantom of Bombay House” Mistry does not hold any Irish directorships and there are no records of him owning land in the Land Registry.

However he may own assets through various nominee companies.

The family’s interest in Ireland is compounded by their love of horses. They own a 200-acre stud farm in Pune, India’s eighth largest city. It’s a lavish operation, with the drinking water for the 100 or so horses specially filtered. Mistry also owns a 10,000 square foot home in Pune.



The Dallas, Texas-based billionaire John P Grayken, 53, renounced US citizenship in 1999, becoming an Irish passport holder.

Along with Sunderland FC owner Ellis Short, the low-profile investment wizard built up Lone Star Funds into a assetgobbling monster worth €25bn.

He doesn't do interviews and is notoriously private — but the Harvard and University of Pennsylvania economics graduate has made one of the biggest gambles ever seen on financial markets.

He has ploughed into the distressed debt market, buying vast blobs of underperforming mortgages and loans from Wall Street giants.

Grayken has form when it comes to buying assets at the bottom of the cycle.

Lone Star was one of the major buyers of bad loans during the Asian banking crisis of the late 1990s, making massive profits.

The firm subsequently moved to capitalise on economic sluggishness in Europe, buying property assets in Germany.

Another big payday could be even closer as Lone Star looks set to offload its €2.9bn stake in South Korean bank KEB, with shares having doubled in the last year.

Grayken is rebuilding a period mansion in Virginia Water in Surrey, which can be seen on Google Earth.



Dubliner Hilary Weston, 68, a former model, is married to Canadian retail tycoon Galen Weston. He started building his fortune in Ireland where he met his wife-to-be, who worked at the lipstick counter of one of Dublin’s department stores. She was also a well known billboard model at the time.

The Weston empire stretches from his controlling stake in Loblaw, Canada's biggest grocery chain, to George Weston, one of the largest food processors in North America. The Westons also own Brown Thomas in Dublin, Selfridges in the UK and Holt Renfrew in Canada. Forbes valued the family's worth at €3.67bn



Telecoms entrepreneur Denis O'Brien netted close to €250m when selling Esat Telecom to BT for over €2bn at the height of the dotcom boom. He re-invested it in Irish technology with mixed results.

O'Brien's big result was to replicate the success of Esat Digiphone in the Caribbean and Pacific with his fast-growing operation.

The company is understood to be throwing off close to $800m per year in profits. But it had an eye watering mountain of debt, somewhere close to $3.15bn at last count. The businessman is thought to have taken about €810m out of the company in the last couple of years with some money coming from a recent refinancing of the Pacific operation.

O'Brien also owns stakes in BoI, INM and other firms including One51 and oil exploration outfit Sterling Energy. He has property interests in Dublin as well as a European radio operation that includes Today FM and Newstalk in Ireland.

The UCD graduate also owns PGA European Tour golf courses and the €50m valued Quinta da Lago resort in Portugal.

The tycoon founded aircraft leasing firm Aergo, which operates 103 aircraft. O’Brien has been extraordinarily active in Haiti since the devastating earthquake struck earlier this year. The 52-year-old also owns a Gulfstream 550 private jet and contributes half the salary of Giovanni Trappatoni, Ireland’s football manager.



One of the heirs to the Heinz fortunes, Dorrance is thought to live a very low profile life with his Finnish wife in South County Dublin, having sold most of his 10.5 per cent stake in the family soup business for $1.5bn.



Dermot Desmond is as close to Warren Buffet as you'll get in these waters, displaying quite staggering timing and investment smarts. But Buffet doesn't have a pop star for a daughter-in-law or pay Robbie Keane to score for him at Celtic.

Desmond made his first fortune in stockbroking when he built up NCB into a heavyweight on the Irish market. Having sold out, he began his legendary stock market punts, making hundreds of millions from the likes of Baltimore Technologies, Golden Vale and Greencore.

Last year he turned a quick buck buying and selling tens of millions of euros in Bank of Ireland and AIB shares. He is alsosaid to have made mega profits from tradesin ABN Amro and Google.

Desmond, who splits his time betweenDublin, Gibraltar and Barbados, landed hisbiggest score when selling London CityAirport for over €1bn to an infrastructurefund. He'd bought the airport for less than€30m in the early 1990s.

Apart from Celtic Football Club and the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, Desmond isalso a backer of Irish tech companies and avoracious buyer of corporate debt, holdingbig chunks of Intel and Newmount Mining.

He also owns bio-security firm Daon, aswell property, art and other investments.



The Texan-born Irish American owner of Sunderland Football Club took out Irishcitizenship earlier this year. Short boughtout publican Charlie Chawke, Loui sFitzgerald and other Irish members of the Drumaville consortium.

He was one of the key movers at Texan private equity group Lone Star and ran its Asian book. Lone Star now has €25bn in assets under management. Short retired from the firm with money in the bank.

He also owns a €3m home in the K-Club, as well as the €30m Skibo castle in Scotland — best known for hosting Madonna's marriage to Guy Ritchie.



The New Zealand Business Review estimates that Meath ex-pat Cleary is worth NZ$2bn and is the third richest man in that country. Cleary's agri-business empire owns large tracts of land in New Zealand.

He has also diversified into telecoms and retail property, owning shopping centres and stud farms near Buenos Aires in Argentina as well as other assets in earthquake-hit Chile.

Cleary is also active in renewable energy. He funds the chair of Irish Studies at Otago University.



The O'Reilly family dynasty, headed by Sir Anthony O'Reilly, has seen much of its wealth restored after being bombarded in the opening salvoes of the recession.

Heinz shares have risen 50 per cent in the last year, valuing the O'Reilly stake at up to €200m. Gavin O'Reilly shepherded INM through a critical debt restructuring process and subsequent rights issue, while Providence Resources has been busy raising money. Previous dividends contributed over €120m, whilst property and art assets are valued at close to €120m.

Lady O'Reilly was believed to be worth well over €300m from inheritances. Cameron O'Reilly 's Landis + Gyr is now one of the world largest metering and technology companies, with sales of nearly €900m and profits of over €147m last year.



Forbes Magazine estimated that Sean Quinn was worth over €3.3bn at his peak. His empire stretched from insurance to cement, hotels, bottling, and property from India to Ukraine. Forbes now thinks he’s worth €1.68bn. We think that’s too high.

His appalling decision to plough over €1bn into shares in the now nationalised Anglo Irish Bank lost the family close to €1bn. But what of Quinn's borrowings? A spokesman recently described a report that Quinn owed the banks €2.5bn as “speculative”. That would have given the tycoon a negative net worth. Even half that level would eat into the fortune big time.

The debts have cut estimates of Quinn's worth spectacularly. Quinn's five children shared a €200m payment last year.

However the tycoon's current lowly position may not last long, as the empire continues to make good profits — throwing off about €300m per year.

Quinn has also indicated that he may consider floating or selling parts of the business in the next five years, which will crystallise his wealth considerably.

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