Fracking and chemicals billionaire Jim Ratcliffe increased his wealth by more than £15bn last year to take the crown as Britain’s richest person, with a £21bn fortune.
Ratcliffe, a union-buster, has overtaken the Hinduja brothers, to take the Sunday Times Rich List title thanks to a huge increase in value of his petrochemical company Ineos, the UK’s biggest fracking firm.
Ratcliffe founded Ineos in 1998 and still owns 60% of the firm that made profits of more than £2.2bn last year and employs 18,500 people. Ratcliffe, who lives in a mansion near Beaulieu in the New Forest and owns two superyachts called Hampshire and Hampshire II, jumped from 18th to first place in the rich list.
Ratcliffe privately met Osborne in 2013 to propose a series of legislative measures to curb unions’ ability to strike and to reduce workers’ pensions. The aim was to shift the balance of power from unions to employers. He suggested a series of reforms to restrict strikes, including more precisely worded ballots, new ballots for each phase of industrial action and outlawing picketing at shared site
Ratcliffe is joined in the top 20 by his top lieutenants at Ineos John Reece and Andy Currie, who have enjoyed fabulous wealth from their stakes in the firm. Reece and Currie both own 20% stakes in the company – valued at £7bn apiece. Ineos, which is trying to frack for shale gas in South Yorkshire, owns an eclectic portfolio of assets including the Swiss football club Lausanne-Sport, the luxury jacket maker Belstaff and has announced plans to build a successor to the Land Rover Defender.
The 1,000 richest people in the UK now share a record total wealth of £724bn, up 10% on last year’s figure. It now takes £115m to join even the richest 1,000 people.
The Hinduja siblings Sri, 82, and Gopi, 78, who control a vast range of business investments under the Hinduja Group, spanning oil and gas, IT, energy, media, banking, property and healthcare, are second on the list with a £20.6bn fortune.
Third place goes to property magnates David and Simon Reuben with £15bn, followed by steel industrialist Lakshmi Mittal with £14.7bn.