Wednesday 13 December 2017

We have 25 new entries but list lacks female presence

There are 25 new entries on the 2015 Sunday Independent Rich List. This is down on the 27 "newbies" last year, and on the 38 new entries in 2013 and the record 44 in 2012. Again, there are no women on the list of new entries… apart from those included as part of family membership.

The top two new entries came from the rejigging of assessments. Paul McGuinness parted company with U2 after managing the band for 30 years. He is now counted separately from Bono and the band, with an estimated €180m fortune.

Paul McGuinness is now counted separately from U2
Paul McGuinness is now counted separately from U2

Eamon Quinn and his siblings Zoe, Stephen, Gilliane and Donal enter the list for the first time in their own right, with an estimated fortune of €165m. They had previously been lumped together with their father, retail legend Feargal Quinn.

Monaghan man Tony White is the highest brand new entry. He made his fortune as one of the first pioneers of "big data" floating his Abacus firm on NASDAQ in the first dotcom boom.

He sold the company to DoubleClick for an estimated €1.05bn in 1999, investing shrewdly in property. The Manhattan-based mogul also sold a house to Woody Allen for €22.6m in 2006.

Clare man Patrick Purcell is another new entry, after floating his mining-equipment firm on stock markets last year. Between his stake and special dividends, Purcell is now estimated to be worth close to €79m.

Patrick Purcell is a new entry to The Rich List
Patrick Purcell is a new entry to The Rich List

Separated by the river Shannon and a mere €2m is Kieran Curran, the 34-year-old biotech scientist who sold his Gencell group to US multinational Becton Dickinson for about €132m at the end of 2014.

The incredible bounceback in property values has also brought some real estate players into the limelight. Low-profile investor Michael Roden has been quietly beavering away, buying and selling lucrative assets for a number of years. We figure his fortune is about €75m at this stage.

The recovery in property and an improvement in the consumer economy has also seen the return of some wealthy tycoons who had appeared in earlier lists. These include Monaghan Mushrooms founder Ronnie Wilson and poker-playing flooring titan, Noel Furlong.

Technology and communications has also been lucrative for some, with Globoforce founder, Eric Mosely, and serial entrepreneur Don Maher of Fonua breaking on to the list.

Clare man Kieran Curran
Clare man Kieran Curran

But while there's cheering and whooping for the 25 new entries, it also means that there are 25 people who have dropped off the list since last year. There are a number of reasons for this. This year, the bar for entry to the list has risen to €26m, up from €24m last year and €23m in 2013. It was €19m in 2011.

While stock markets and property values have rocketed in recent years, not all industries have kept up.

We've drastically pared back estimates of the valuation of Paul Coulson's glass and tin-can giant, Ardagh. An awful lot of debt and assets have been sold down, the firm probably has an equity value of around €2bn, far lower than boomtime numbers. This has seen the likes of executive David Wall drop off the list.

Aviation executive Gary Burke has also departed, as estimates of his windfall from the sale of Pembroke may have been overcooked.

Martin and Geoffrey Agnew have also been left off this year's list as much of their company is actually owned by a charitable trust rather than them as beneficiaries.

Others may well have been wealthy enough to merit entry onto the list, but their finances or the finances of their companies were too opaque for us to accurately assess their wealth.

Debt was a key factor when determining wealth, which has led to the absence of some of the bigger builders and developers on the list since it started in 2010.

One thing is patently clear, over the next 12 months the list will change again. New fortunes will be created and existing ones will evaporate.

Sunday Independent

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