Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe (born 18 October 1952) is a British billionaire chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist. Ratcliffe is the chairman and chief executive officer 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 $80 billion. He does not have a high public profile, and has been described by The Sunday Times as "publicity shy". On 13 May 2018 he was named as the richest person in the UK, with a net worth of £21.05 billion.Contents
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 ten. His father eventually ran a factory making laboratory furniture. Aged ten, he moved with his family to East Yorkshire, and Ratcliffe attended Beverley Grammar School and lived in Hull up to the age of 18.
Ratcliffe graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in chemical engineering in 1974. He graduated from the London Business School in 1980, and donated £25m to the school in 2016.Career
His first job was with oil giant Esso, but he decided to broaden his skills into finance by studying management accounting and taking an MBA at London Business School in 1980. In 1989, he joined US private equity group Advent International.Ineos Main article: Ineos
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 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.
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 the Sunday Times Rich List 2018 he was named as the richest man in the UK, with a net worth of £21.05 billion.
In February 2019 it was announced that Ineos will be making £1bn worth of investments in the UK oil and chemical industries, which will 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 hit out at 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".
In March 2019 INEOS said it could 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.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.Personal life
In 1985, Ratcliffe married Amanda Townson, they had two sons, George and Samuel. They divorced in 1995. He has one daughter with his second wife, Alessia Maresca, an Italian tax lawyer..
He lives in Chelsea, London, 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 August 2018, The Guardian reported that Ratcliffe was moving to Monaco for income tax related reasons.
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, and 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 reported to have completed the 2007 London Marathon.
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. He has publicly expressed his disdain for politicians, criticising them for "dicking around" on negotiating the Brexit withdrawal agreement and for being happy to "lunch around with bankers" but less keen to discuss economic issues with industrialists and business owners.Sailing
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.
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.Cycling
On the 19th March 2019, Ratcliffe purchased the highly successful Team Sky cycling franchise, subsequently rebranded Team Ineos. Their first competitive race under the new Ineos sponsorship, was the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire.Football
On 13 November 2017, Ratcliffe became the owner of FC Lausanne-Sport, a Swiss Super League football club.References