Sunday 17 February 2019

An animal nutrition and a business empire that spans the globe, employing over 3,500 people, accounts for most of the fortunes amassed by Alltech founder Pearse Lyons (73).

The brewing and biochemistry graduate started his career at Harp Lager in Dundalk, before using his scientific background to produce superior animal feeds. In something of a journey 'back to the future' of where his working life began, he and his wife Deirdre - Alltech's head of corporate image and design - have restored a 19th-century church on Dublin's James's Street to house the Pearse Lyons Distillery. The firm also brews a number of craft beers at its headquarters in Kentucky in the US.

Lyons started Alltech 37 years ago with just $10,000 in seed capital. The shares are held by the family, which includes son Mark, who heads up Alltech's China business. The firm, which is believed to be debt-free, has been on the acquisition trail in recent years. There are valuable divisions in crop sciences and life sciences that were looked at being spun off several years ago, but there has been no sign of any moves in that direction since. The life sciences outfit was valued at about $1bn in 2012. Total revenues are believed to be approaching the $2.5bn mark. In 2016, Lyons launched a Dublin-based accelerator to boost agri-tech start-ups with mentoring and funding.

Lyons lives beside a golf course in Kentucky, and owns an apartment in Dublin. Apart from a Gulfstream company jet, a vintage VW Beetle and a souped-up S-class Mercedes, there are few other obvious trappings of wealth.

Online Editors

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