Few billionaires have travelled further from humble beginnings than JP McManus. He began his working life driving a bulldozer for his father’s earth-moving business. Today he runs his empire from a six-storey building in Geneva, in the interim having made millions on the currency and bond markets.
He is close friends and frequent business partners with Dermot Desmond and John Magnier. The three men together control the famous Sandy Lane hotel in Barbados, a favourite of Simon Cowell and Tiger Woods, having purchased it with a consortium in 1998. Together he and Magnier also own a 23pc share in Britain’s biggest pub company, Mitchells & Butlers, which saw profits soar in 2019, as total revenues rose to £2.23bn (€2.63bn).
McManus’s family home in Chelsea, London is said to be the most expensive residential property owned by an Irish person — bought for around €70m in 2012, it has since soared to over €100m in value.
McManus (68) also owns a home on Dublin’s ‘Millionaire Row’ — he bought developer Bernard McNamara’s former home on Ailesbury Road in Ballsbridge for a cut-price €10m in 2011 — and an enormous home at Killmallock, Co Limerick, which has an artificial lake, nine bedroom suites, an 18-metre pool, a 200-seat cinema and an underground car park. In the last few years, McManus has also purchased a Gulf Stream jet, which bears the initials of his three children.
From his earliest career, McManus’s betting skills meant he was known as the ‘Sundance Kid’ and he once reportedly won more than €250,000 on a single race. Such daring at the bookies meant that McManus was sometimes characterised in the media as a swashbuckling type, which seemed at odds with his love of privacy — he named one of his horses No Comment.
As the main National Hunt owner, McManus’s jockeys wear the colours of the South Liberties GAA club in Limerick, with which McManus has an abiding connection, and his philanthropy is famed throughout the county.
McManus has been at the heart of a golden age for Irish sport. In 2018, he ploughed €10m into a planned rugby-themed visitors’ centre in Limerick city, which is set to open in 2021.
Last year McManus beat out stiff competition to win the rights to host the Ryder Cup at Adare Manor in 2026. Brooks Koepka, who was just overtaken by Rory McIlroy as world number one in golf, is the latest big name to confirm his attendance in Limerick for the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor this coming July. Among the celebrities who will take to the spectacular parkland course will be singer Niall Horan, boxer Wladimir Klitschko and actors Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Grant.