Paris-based financier Paul ‘The Cooler’ Coulson made his money from aviation leasing and other investments in the 1980s before buying into stock market minnow Ardagh, which made glass bottles.
Through a series of audacious buyouts and bond offerings, Ardagh has grown to become one of the biggest glass bottling and packaging outfits in the world, producing everything from Budweiser beer bottles to Lynx aerosol cans. The €2bn-valued company is poised to float on US stock markets in 2015, although we’ve cut the valuation.
It has already pulled out of two IPOs, spending €8.7m on fees for an abortive attempt in 2010. Ardagh has paid huge dividends to Coulson, who owns 36pc of the company. Close to €257m has been paid out since 2011, with Coulson (62) netting around €92m. Earlier this year, the financier shared €100m when Blackstone bought the Microsoft HQ in Sandyford owned by Coulson and a number of other investors. He owns properties in Dublin’s Shrewsbury Road, a pad in Paris and a number of homes in Portugal. There’s also a 164ft yacht off Sardinia. He’s a major donor to exclusive Jesuit school Gonzaga, which has named its theatre after him.