James Ratcliffe has a net worth of $19 billion and is a British chemical engineer turned businessman and industrialist. James Ratcliffe, a former engineer, has been the chairman of Ineos Group, a chemical behemoth with a $44 billion annual revenue, since 1998.
He is now solely responsible for the company’s growth through acquisitions and partnerships.
Ratcliffe, one of the wealthiest persons in the UK today, prefers to keep a low profile. He was born in Manchester on October 18, 1952, and graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in chemical engineering.
Ratcliffe decided to develop his abilities in finance shortly after landing his first job with oil company Esso, and enrolled at London Business School to study management accounting and earn an MBA.
He was one of the founders of INSPEC, which leased the former BP Chemicals facility in Antwerp, Belgium, after a period. Ratcliffe founded Ineos in Hampshire in 1998 to purchase out INSPEC and the freehold of the Antwerp site.
Ineos has made a number of acquisitions since then, including buying Tessenderlo’s European chlor-vinyls business for $110 million and forming a joint venture with BASF in Germany.
The $8.7 billion transaction to buy BP Group’s Innovene subsidiary in 2005 is regarded as the company’s biggest gain. As a result, it is now one of the largest manufacturers of styrene monomer and polystyrene in the world. Ratcliffe still owns two-thirds of the company that is responsible for the majority of his wealth.
Early life and education
Ratcliffe was born in Failsworth, Lancashire, to a joiner father and an accounts office worker mother. He grew up in a council house until he was ten years old. His father finally established a laboratory furniture manufacturing company.
Ratcliffe moved to East Yorkshire with his family when he was ten years old, and he attended Beverley Grammar School and stayed in Hull until he was eighteen years old.
Ratcliffe earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Birmingham in 1974.
Awards and honors
The Institution of Chemical Engineers awarded Ratcliffe an honorary fellowship in May 2009, recognizing “his continuous leadership in creating the Ineos Group.” He was honored with the Petrochemical Heritage Award in 2013. Ratcliffe was knighted in the 2018 Birthday Honours for his contributions to business and investment.
Ratcliffe married Amanda Townson in 1985, and the couple has two boys, George and Samuel. In 1995, they divorced. He has a daughter with Maria Alessia Maresca, an Italian tax lawyer, from a prior relationship. Catherine Polli is his current partner.
Ratcliffe splits his time between Monaco and the English county of Hampshire. In May 2017, he presented his fifth plan, which was less ambitious than the previous four, to replace an existing two-bedroom house at Thorns Beach, near Beaulieu, on the Hampshire coast, with a “luxury property.”
Ratcliffe officially relocated his tax domicile from Hampshire to Monaco in September 2020, saving him an estimated £4 billion in taxes. He also owns a magnificent home in Gland, Switzerland, on the beaches of Lake Geneva, near to Michael Schumacher‘s.
His home is on the Napoleon Bonaparte Imperial estate, which also includes Princess Alix Napoléon‘s home.
Ratcliffe appreciates physical activity and has participated in expeditions to the North and South Poles, as well as a three-month motorcycle ride in South Africa. He ran the Marathon Des Sables across the Sahara Desert in 2013 and launched the charity “Go Run for Fun,” which uses celebrity-driven events to encourage thousands of youngsters aged five to ten to get active.
“As a corporation, Ineos backed the common market, but not a United States of Europe,” says Ratcliffe, who is a eurosceptic. He opposes the “layers and layers” of European regulation that he believes are making European economies more inefficient and cumbersome.
Some detractors believe, however, that he is happy to take full advantage of the single market and will have the new Grenadier 4X4 manufactured in France. He has publicly expressed his contempt for lawmakers, criticizing them for the way they negotiated the Brexit withdrawal agreement and for their willingness to “lunch around with bankers” but not with manufacturers and company owners.
Hampshire and Hampshire II are two super yachts owned by Ratcliffe. His first boat, Barbara Jean, was built by Feadship. He took receipt of the 78-meter-long (256-foot-long) Feadship Hampshire II, which he still owns, in 2012.