Monday 18 February 2019

Horse-racing magnate JP McManus grabbed the headlines last year after making a €3.2m donation to the GAA following Limerick's All-Ireland hurling win.

The former Manchester United shareholder received his bookmaker's licence at the age of 21. Shortly afterwards he had established a name for himself as the 'Sundance Kid' thanks to his betting exploits at Cheltenham. That reputation was further polished by a number of savvy plays on the currency and bond markets.

The 67-year-old Swiss-based tax resident conducts the bulk of his currency operations from Geneva. He owns the five-star Adare Manor golf resort, which will play host to Tiger Woods next year at the Pro-Am event. He is also pushing to host one of golf's biggest tournaments, the Ryder Cup, in 2026. After spending around €30m buying the manor, it reopened in 2017 following a €50m makeover, which included the addition of a new 42-bedroom wing and huge ballroom.

McManus often invests alongside Coolmore Stud's John Magnier with both having stakes in UK-based Barchester Healthcare and Britain's largest pub company, Mitchells & Butlers. The pair, alongside billionaire business tycoon Dermot Desmond, control the €1bn-valued Sandy Lane beach-front resort in Barbados.

In 2017, Barchester reported £591m (€662m) in revenue and a pre-tax profit of £6.86m (€7.68m). He is one of a number of Irish investors in the company set to land a significant windfall from its imminent sale. The company, which manages more than 200 care homes and seven hospitals, was understood to have been put up for sale last year with a price-tag of around €2.8bn. A number of Asian pension funds and US investor Welltower are understood to be interested in a deal for the business.

McManus invested €10m into a planned new rugby visitor centre for Limerick, which received planning permission in October. The International Rugby Experience will be situated in the middle of Limerick city on O'Connell Street and has been touted as a major boon for the city. Munster and Ireland rugby legend Paul O'Connell has also been involved in driving the project.

He is also the owner of one of Ireland's largest private residences, a vast neo-Palladian home at Kilmallock in Co Limerick. Among its many selling points, beyond its nine bedroom suites, and 18-metre pool, is an artificial lake and a 200-seat cinema.

Almost 13 years ago, he bought the surrounding grounds of the 40,000sqft property, which previously belonged to a local sports club, in order to ensure total privacy. The home is set on 600 acres where his wife Noreen operates the stud and horse farm which stocks thoroughbred racehorses.

The typically publicity-adverse McManus was the subject of dozens of articles last year after his decision to donate €100,000 to every GAA county board. The donation was described as an 'incredible gesture' by the GAA and won him many new fans. McManus has been the main sponsor of Limerick GAA for many years through the Sporting Limerick brand, and revelled in the hurlers' first All-Ireland win in 45 years in August.

In 2014, he splashed out €55m on a top-of-the-range Gulfstream G650. Its official registration, as displayed on the tail, is EI-JSK, taken from the initials of his children John, Sue-Ann and Kieran.

McManus's first love has always been horse racing and his green and yellow silks, the colours of his beloved South Liberties GAA club, have become synonymous with the national hunt in both Ireland and the UK. In the 17/18 season he had 152 different runners throughout the UK, while in Ireland he had 260 different runners. He even named one of his horses No Comment as a nod to his desire to be kept out of the public eye.

In February 2017, in a rare reversal of fortune, the Irish tax exile lost a US legal action to recover $5.2m (€4.9m) in tax withheld from his winnings on a three-day backgammon match.

Online Editors

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