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Property developers fall off rich list as asset values drop

PROPERTY developers continue to fall off the country's rich list but there are also signs that the massive destruction of Irish wealth is tapering off.

The latest developers to drop off the list of Ireland's richest include Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett of Treasury Holdings, and Sean Mulryan from Ballymore Properties.

However, for the first time since 2008, the basic level wealth necessary to qualify for the rich list has increased -- up by €1m to €36m.

Colm Murphy, who compiles the annual list for the 'Sunday Times', said there are tentative signs that the decline in wealth is coming to an end.

"I would be optimistic that it is hitting a base or bottom," he told the Irish Independent.

He added that developers have been removed from the list because the value of their assets is difficult to assess, but they could return to it in the future.

Despite many builders falling off the list, those who focused their investments abroad continue to sit high in the rankings.

For example, Mayo-born Ray O'Rourke, the civil engineer behind Laing O'Rourke, which he co-founded with his brother Des, is the main contractor for London's Olympic Games building programme.

Mr O'Rourke and his family's wealth has grown by over €100m to €358m in the past year.

There are few changes in the top 10 wealthiest but some of the high earners have managed to increase their wealth significantly -- particularly those whose investment focus is outside Ireland.

Top of the list is the dynasty behind Dublin's Brown Thomas store, Hilary Weston and family, whose assets are worth just under €7bn.

Mobile phone and media entrepreneur Denis O'Brien features second on the list -- based mainly on the value of his telecommunications firm Digicel. Mr O'Brien is worth €2.8bn, up from €1.8bn last year.

There are two new entrants in the top 10 including Dublin-born Pearse Lyons who is worth over €800m. Mr Lyons's wealth is based on his animal feed and biotechology business Alltech.

The other is Paddy McNally who is worth €705m. He sold his Formula One hospitality group for €350m in 2006 and still earns about €10m a year from that investment as well as property interests in Britain and Switzerland.

Irish Independent