Jim Ratcliffe

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Jim Ratcliffe
Jim Ratcliffe PET 2013 03 25 DSC 0554.JPG
Ratcliffe in 2013
James Arthur Ratcliffe

(1952-10-18) 18 October 1952 (age 68)
Failsworth, Lancashire, England
Alma mater
OccupationChairman and CEO, Ineos
Owner of OGC Nice
Amanda Townson
(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.[1] 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".[2][3] As of May 2018, he was the richest person in the UK, with a net worth of £21.05 billion.[4] 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.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

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.[6][7] His father eventually ran a factory making laboratory furniture.[8] 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.[8]

Ratcliffe graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in chemical engineering in 1974.[8]


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).[8] In 1989, he joined US private equity group Advent International.[9]


Ratcliffe was a co-founder of Inspec, which leased the former BP Chemicals site in Antwerp, Belgium.[citation needed] In 1998 Ratcliffe formed Ineos in Hampshire to buy-out Inspec and the freehold of the Antwerp site.[citation needed]

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.[2][3]

In April 2010, Ratcliffe moved Ineos's head office from Hampshire to Rolle, Switzerland, decreasing the amount of tax the company paid by £100m a year.[10]

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.[11]

In the Sunday Times Rich List 2018 he was named as the richest man in the UK, with a net worth of £21.05 billion.[4]

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.[12]

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".[13]

Sports ownership and sponsorship[edit]

On 13 November 2017, Ratcliffe became the owner of FC Lausanne-Sport, a Swiss Super League football club.[14]

In 2018, Ratcliffe partnered with Ben Ainslie to form Ineos Team UK to compete for the 36th America's Cup in 2021. Ratcliffe is reportedly investing over £110 million in the project.[15]

On 19 March 2019, Ratcliffe purchased the Team Sky cycling franchise, subsequently rebranded Team Ineos.[16] 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.

On 22 August 2019, the French competition authority permitted the €100 million takeover of Ligue 1 club OGC Nice from Chinese-American entrepreneur Chien Lee by Ineos.[17]

Ratcliffe supported the October 2019 Ineos 1:59 Challenge, a successful effort by Eliud Kipchoge to run the classic marathon distance (42.195 kilometres or 26 miles 385 yards) under 2 hours.[18]

In February 2020, Ineos became principal partners of Mercedes AMG F1, signing a five-year agreement with the team.[19] In the same month, Ratcliffe rejected claims that he would buy a Premier League club, having previously been linked to Chelsea.[20]

In July 2021, Greenpeace criticized a decision by New Zealand Rugby to accept six years of sponsorship from Ineos as being inconsistent with the country's "clean green" values.[21]

Environmental pollution[edit]

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.[22] An analysis of data from the Environment Agency (EA) also reveals the plant clocked up 176 permit violations between 2014 and 2017.[22] An EA spokesperson said: “air emissions are well over legal limits and this poses a risk to the environment”.[23] 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.[24]

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.[25] Ineos sold the Florida plant to Alliance Bio-Products Inc. in 2017.[26]

Honours and awards[edit]

In May 2009, Ratcliffe was granted an honorary fellowship by the Institution of Chemical Engineers citing "his sustained leadership in building the Ineos Group."[27] In 2013 he received the Petrochemical Heritage Award.[28] Ratcliffe was appointed Knight Bachelor in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to business and to investment.[29]

Personal life[edit]

In 1985, Ratcliffe married Amanda Townson; they have two sons, George and Samuel. They divorced in 1995.[8][30][31] He has one daughter with his current partner, Maria Alessia Maresca, an Italian tax lawyer.[32][8][33]

Ratcliffe lives in Monaco and Hampshire, England.[34] 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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37]

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,[38] 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.[39][40]

Ratcliffe is a eurosceptic and has stated that, "As a business, Ineos supported the common market, but not a United States of Europe."[41] He is opposed to the "layers and layers" of European legislation which he feels is making European economies increasingly cumbersome and inefficient.[42] 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.[43] 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.[44]

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.[45]


  1. ^ "JAMES ARTHUR RATCLIFFE - Company Director Check". www.flixens.com. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b Dominic O’Connell (29 April 2007). "Ratcliffe in richest top 10". Times Online. London. Retrieved 22 June 2008.
  3. ^ a b Grainne Gilmore (21 April 2008). "Business big shot: Jim Ratcliffe". The Times. London. Retrieved 22 June 2008.
  4. ^ a b Watts, Robert, ed. (13 May 2018). "The Rich List: At last, the self-made triumph over old money". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Bloomberg Billionaires Index: Jim Ratcliffe". Bloomberg. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  6. ^ "The deal that made Jim Ratcliffe Britain's richest man". 3 June 2018 – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  7. ^ Bell, Alex (10 September 2015). "Meet billionaire Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe, one of Manchester's most successful entrepreneurs of all time". men.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Pfeifer, Sylvia (7 February 2014). "Jim Ratcliffe". FT. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  9. ^ "The quiet entrepreneur who is as wealthy as Richard Branson, but nowhere near as famous". Liverpool Daily Post. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  10. ^ "The Times & The Sunday Times". thetimes.co.uk. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  11. ^ Author. "Q4, 2015 Trading Statement". www.ineos.com. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  12. ^ "UK's richest man in £1bn oil and chemicals investment". BBC. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Fracking boss calls government 'pathetic'". 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  14. ^ Wilson, Bill (13 November 2017). "Chemicals giant Ineos buys Swiss football team". Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  15. ^ Hodgetts, Roy (5 September 2018). "Jim Ratcliffe: Britain's richest man plots America's Cup coup". CNN. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  16. ^ Cary, Tom (19 March 2019). "Ineos takeover of Team Sky provokes anger from environmental campaigners". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Nice: British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos buys Ligue 1 club". BBC Sport. 26 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  18. ^ Robinson, Joshua (11 October 2019). "The Billionaire, the Olympian and the Quest for the Sub-2-Hour Marathon". Wall Street Journal.
  19. ^ Smith, Luke (10 February 2020). "Mercedes Formula 1 team reveals expanded partnership with INEOS". Autosport.com. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  20. ^ Scott, Laura (10 February 2020). "Sir Jim Ratcliffe: Britain's richest man plays down Premier League move". BBC Sport. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  21. ^ Corlett, Eva (28 July 2021). "Greenpeace criticises New Zealand rugby deal with petrochemical company Ineos". The Guardian. London, United Kingdom. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  22. ^ a b Environment Editor, Ben Webster (23 March 2019). "Sir Jim Ratcliffe's firm Ineos made threat over dirty air rules". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  23. ^ Huntley, David (23 March 2019). "Billionaire's firm 'threatened to close' Teesside plant". gazettelive.
  24. ^ "INEOS threatens to close UK plant unless it can dodge EU pollution rules". Unearthed. 23 March 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  25. ^ "On the Mend: Why INEOS Bio isn't producing ethanol in Florida : Biofuels Digest".
  26. ^ Stoll, I. Katharina; Boukis, Nikolaos; Sauer, Jörg (2020). "Syngas Fermentation to Alcohols: Reactor Technology and Application Perspective". Chemie Ingenieur Technik. Wiley. 92 (1–2): 125–136. doi:10.1002/cite.201900118. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  27. ^ "Press release: Ion and Ratcliffe awarded Honorary Fellowships". IChemE. 13 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009.
  28. ^ "Petrochemical Heritage Award". Science History Institute. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
  29. ^ "No. 62310". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 June 2018. p. B2.
  30. ^ "Who is Jim Ratcliffe?". Evening Times. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  31. ^ "The tycoon". 28 April 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  32. ^ "South Pole 100 (2011)". Ice Axe Expeditions. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  33. ^ "Ineos Press Release, June 2015" (PDF). Ineos.com.
  34. ^ "Forbes profile: James Ratcliffe". Forbes. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  35. ^ Yandell, Chris (10 May 2017). "Billionaire businessman Jim Ratcliffe has submitted fifth plan to build luxury home overlooking Solent". Southern Daily Echo. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  36. ^ Neate, Rupert (25 September 2020). "Sir Jim Ratcliffe, UK's richest person, moves to tax-free Monaco". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  37. ^ "Golf Club du Domaine Impérial - Home". www.golfdomaineimperial.com.
  38. ^ 'Out of this world, para 12, available from https://www.ineos.com/inch-magazine/articles/issue-7/out-of-this-world/
  39. ^ Heller, David (16 July 2015). "Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe: "I'm very cheerful about coming back to the UK"". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  40. ^ Northedge, Richard (11 August 2007). "Ratcliffe, the alchemist". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  41. ^ "Ineos' Vote of Confidence in After Brexit". INEOS. December 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  42. ^ Pickard, Jim (19 July 2015). "Ineos chief makes case for UK to leave European Union". Financial Times.
  43. ^ "Ineos factory once planned for Wales will now be located in France instead". INEOS. December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  44. ^ Watts, Robert (17 February 2019). "Lucky Jim Ratcliffe always has a surprise up his sleeve". The Times. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  45. ^ "Motor Yacht Hampshire II". Super Yacht Fan. Retrieved 1 December 2014.

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