Petrochemicals entrepreneur worth £21bn named wealthiest person in UK

A 'publicity-shy' chemicals entrepreneur is now the richest man in Britain after his wealth leapt £15.3 billion in a single year, while Sir Philip Green and Jamie Oliver saw their fortunes slide.

Jim Ratcliffe. Picture: Michael Gillen
Jim Ratcliffe. Picture: Michael Gillen

Jim Ratcliffe, 65, chief executive of Ineos, topped the Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune of £21.05 billion, leapfrogging his way from 18th place year.

Mr Ratcliffe, whose firm is currently locked in a legal battle with the Scottish Government over its moratorium on fracking, emerged in pole position after additional details led to a “substantial revaluation” of his assets.

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Ineos director Andy Currie and finance director John Reece shared in his fortunes, joining Ratcliffe in the top 20, taking joint 16th place with fortunes of £7 billion each.

At second place were the Hinduja brothers, Sri and Gopi, worth £20.64 billion.

Their fortune jumped by £4.44 billion on 2017, with their India-based car manufacturer Ashok Leyland and Mumbai-based IndusInd Bank having a particularly successful year.

British-American industrialist-turned-media mogul Sir Len Blavatnik, 60, came in third place with £15.26 billion to his name. He was knighted this year for services to philanthropy – recent donations include £50 million to fund the Tate Modern’s new wing, and £5m towards the Victoria and Albert Museum’s new entrance as well as funding the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the Rich List, with the top 20 now worth a combined £218.6 billion – increasing their cumulative wealth by £33.5 billion in the last year.

Of the 1,000 people on the list, 145 are billionaires.

There are now 141 women on the list, with Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken of the brewing dynasty ranked highest at number six.

She and her financier husband Michel de Carvalho – vice-chairman of Citigroup – increased their wealth by almost 20 per cent over the past year to £11.1 billion.

Elsewhere, Arcadia boss Sir Philip Green’s fortune took a tumble – his reputation was dragged through the mud following the collapse of BHS after he sold it to a man twice declared bankrupt for just £1.

It later emerged that the department store’s two pension schemes had a combined shortfall of £571 million, risking the future of their 19,000 members.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver exited the list completely following a rocky year for his eponymous restaurant empire.