THE 300 richest people in Ireland are worth almost €57bn or more than the entire Libyan or Croatian economy. They've got much richer too, with close to €6.7bn added to their combined wealth over the last year, fuelled by roaring stock markets and huge increases in the price of oil and other commodities.
As revealed in the Sunday Independent Rich List 2011, Ireland's richest man is Pallonji Mistry, an Indian-born industrialist. His wife Patsi was born on Dublin's Hatch Street and he took Irish citizenship in 2003. Mr Mistry's two sons and a daughter also have Irish citizenship. The bulk of his wealth comes from an 18.4 per cent stake in Tata -- India's largest company, which has interests in cars, property, manufacturing, and chemicals. Mr Mistry's wealth jumped by €1.67bn last year and last week Forbes magazine ranked him as the 103rd richest person in the world.
Ireland now has 11 billionaires -- two more than last year. While Denis O'Brien, Dermot Desmond and the O'Reilly family have long been ranked in the billionaire class, we've also revalued Coolmore's John Magnier and Glen Dimplex boss Martin Naughton and catapulted them into billionaire status.
While the Irish economy has pancaked, some of the rich are still doing extraordinary well. But others have lost fortunes. Sean Quinn is the biggest casualty of the year, falling right off the list of the top 300 due to his massive debts. The country's best-known property developers are, by and large, excluded from the list because of major debts and a lack of accurate valuations of land and property assets. Citywest owner Jim Mansfield -- who claimed to be worth close to €1bn -- is not on the list after the implosion of his business. Irish Nationwide's Michael Fingleton and Calyx boss Maurice Healy have also dropped off.
But there are 40 new entries for 2011 and a new breed of young entrepreneur is replacing the thinning ranks of the business elite, shattered by the collapse of banks and property markets. These entrepreneurs are making fortunes in technology, the internet, natural resources and alternative energy.
One of their number, Andrew Collins, bagged more than €25m when he sold his stake in online insurance firm 123.ie last year. His partner Derek Richardson netted €37m. Mr Collins had already pocketed a big chunk of the €60m Cendant paid to buy Needahotel.com five years ago.
Technology and the internet are also making fortunes for the likes of Cartrawler's Greg and Niall Turley and Curam's John Hearne and Ronan Rooney. Trintech's Cyril McGuire is also back in the big time having sold his company for close to €100m. Back in the dot.com boom, Mr McGuire and his family were worth close to €1bn because of frenzied stock prices. Taxback.com's Terry Clune is also a new entry.
With oil prices having almost trebled in four years, fortunes have been made in the industry. Buoyed by a series of massive oil finds in West and Central Africa, Tullow's Aidan Heavy is now worth over €150m. An even bigger turnaround has been seen in the fortunes of former Smart Telecom boss Oisin Fanning, who a year ago was fighting to hold on to his house. He floated a gas shale exploration company and his stake in San Leon Energy is now worth €23m.