James Arthur Ratcliffe
18 October 1952
Failsworth, Lancashire, England
|Occupation||Chairman and CEO, Ineos|
Owner of OGC Nice
(m. 1985; div. 1995)
|Partner(s)||Maria Alessia Maresca|
Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe (born 18 October 1952) is a Monaco-based British billionaire chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist. Ratcliffe is the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Ineos chemicals group, which he founded in 1998 and of which he still owns two-thirds, and which has been estimated to have a turnover of $15 billion in 2019. He does not have a high public profile, and has been described by The Sunday Times as "publicity shy". As of May 2018, he was the richest person in the UK, with a net worth of £21.05 billion. As of April 2020, Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimated his net worth at $28.2 billion, 55th richest in the world and second in the UK.
Early life and education
Born in Failsworth, Lancashire, the son of a father who was a joiner and a mother who was an accounts office worker, Ratcliffe lived there in a council house until the age of 10. His father eventually ran a factory making laboratory furniture. Aged 10, he moved with his family to East Yorkshire, and Ratcliffe attended Beverley Grammar School and lived in Hull up to the age of 18.
His first job was with oil giant Esso, but he decided to broaden his skills into finance by studying management accounting, taking an MSc in finance at London Business School from 1978 to 1980 (he donated £25m to the school in 2016). In 1989, he joined US private equity group Advent International.
Ratcliffe was a co-founder of Inspec, which leased the former BP Chemicals site in Antwerp, Belgium. In 1998 Ratcliffe formed Ineos in Hampshire to buy-out Inspec and the freehold of the Antwerp site.
From this small base, using high-yield debt to finance deals, Ratcliffe started buying unwanted operations from groups such as ICI and BP, selecting targets based on their potential to double their earnings over a five-year period. In 2006 Ineos bought BP's refining and petrochemical arm Innovene, giving Ineos refineries and plants in Scotland, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium and Canada.
In 2015, Ratcliffe opened the UK headquarters of the chemicals and energy group in Knightsbridge, London, along with gas and oil trading, and other functions, saying he was "very cheerful about coming back to the UK”. He was pleased with UK policy, London as a business base, and untroubled by the prospect of Brexit. Full year 2015 EBITDA was €577 million compared to €253 million for 2014.
In February 2019 it was announced that Ineos would invest £1bn in the UK oil and chemical industries, to include an overhaul of the Forties pipeline system that is responsible for transporting a significant percentage of the UK's North Sea oil and gas.
On 1 May 2019, Ratcliffe criticised the current government rules which say fracking in Britain must be suspended every time a 0.5 magnitude tremor is detected, which has led to a de facto ban on fracking. He said: "I think the government has been pathetic on the subject".
Sports ownership and sponsorship
On 19 March 2019, Ratcliffe purchased the Team Sky cycling franchise, subsequently rebranded Team Ineos. Their first competitive race under the new Ineos sponsorship, was the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire. They subsequently won the 2019 Tour de France and 2021 Giro d'Italia with the Colombian rider Egan Bernal.
In February 2020, Ineos became principal partners of Mercedes AMG F1, signing a five-year agreement with the team. In the same month, Ratcliffe rejected claims that he would buy a Premier League club, having previously been linked to Chelsea.
In March 2019 Ineos said it would close its Middlesbrough manufacturing plant unless it is allowed to ‘defer compliance’ with EU rules designed to prevent air and water pollution. An analysis of data from the Environment Agency (EA) also reveals the plant clocked up 176 permit violations between 2014 and 2017. An EA spokesperson said: “air emissions are well over legal limits and this poses a risk to the environment”. INEOS director Tom Crotty said the firm “cannot justify” the investment required to comply with EU air and water pollution rules due to come into force in the coming years.
Ineos has carried out small projects in bio ethanol production using Clostridium bacteria, but it has had problems because the syngas has levels of hydrogen cyanide too high for the bacteria to survive. Ineos sold the Florida plant to Alliance Bio-Products Inc. in 2017.
Honours and awards
In May 2009, Ratcliffe was granted an honorary fellowship by the Institution of Chemical Engineers citing "his sustained leadership in building the Ineos Group." In 2013 he received the Petrochemical Heritage Award. Ratcliffe was appointed Knight Bachelor in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to business and to investment.
In 1985, Ratcliffe married Amanda Townson; they have two sons, George and Samuel. They divorced in 1995. He has one daughter with his current partner, Maria Alessia Maresca, an Italian tax lawyer.
Ratcliffe lives in Monaco and Hampshire, England. In May 2017, he submitted his fifth plan, less ambitious than the first four, to build a "luxury home" at Thorns Beach, near Beaulieu, on the Hampshire coast, which would replace an existing two-bedroom bungalow. In September 2020, Ratcliffe officially changed his tax residence from Hampshire to Monaco, a move that it is estimated will save him £4 billion in tax. He also owns a luxurious house on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in the village of Gland, next to Michael Schumacher's. His house is located on the Napoleon Bonaparte Imperial estate, where princess Alix Napoléon also owns a property.
Ratcliffe enjoys physical adventure and has made expeditions to the North and South Poles, as well as a three-month-long motorbike trek in South Africa. In 2013, he completed the Marathon Des Sables across the Sahara Desert, and he has founded a charity "Go Run for Fun", encouraging thousands of children aged between five and ten to get active by creating celebrity-driven events.
Ratcliffe is a eurosceptic and has stated that, "As a business, Ineos supported the common market, but not a United States of Europe." He is opposed to the "layers and layers" of European legislation which he feels is making European economies increasingly cumbersome and inefficient. However, some critics argue that, on a business level, he is very happy to take full profit of the single market and will have the new Grenadier 4X4 produced in France. He has publicly expressed his disdain for politicians, criticising them for the way they negotiated the Brexit withdrawal agreement and are often happy to "lunch around with bankers", but less keen to discuss economic issues with industrialists and business owners.
Ratcliffe has owned two super yachts, Hampshire and Hampshire II. His first yacht was built as Barbara Jean by Feadship. In 2012 he took delivery of the 78 metres (256 ft) Feadship Hampshire II, built by Royal van Lent, which he still owns.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jim Ratcliffe.|
- Business big shot: Jim Ratcliffe, 2008 biography from The Times
- Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos: Uncanny ability to spot undervalued assets, 2006 biography from The Financial Times'(pay-to-view)'
- Dearbail Jordan (13 May 2018), "Jim Ratcliffe: Turning cast-offs into gold", BBC News