Home » The wealth of Sir Jim Ratcliffe explored

The wealth of Sir Jim Ratcliffe explored

by Alex Browne

The wealth of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, is now of burning interest to millions of Manchester United fans across the globe, as he appears to have outmuscled Sheikh Jassim to become a part owner of the football club.

The Athletic has taken a deep dive into Sir Jim’s finances to map out to United fans just what their potential new minority investor could theoretically do.

The article begins by illustrating some of the incredible personal wealth Ratcliffe possesses. The Greater Manchester born billionaire is the proud owner of one of the world’s best cycling teams, a third of the Mercedes Formula One team and a $150m super yacht. To carry on the F1 theme, Ratcliffe has Michael Schumacher’s first ever Ferrari nestled safely in his personal garage. He is not short of a few bob.

To back this up, The UK Sunday Times Rich List of May 2023 places him in 2nd place with a net worth of just under £30m. He even topped the list in 2018. However, Ratcliffe slipped down to 27th over the next four years before storming back into second place this year.

The article puts this down to the fact that most of Sir Jim’s company’s wealth (INEOS) is tied up in some of the global economy’s “most cyclical sectors”. These include energy, chemicals and plastics where profits can “swing wildly” year to year. What is clear though, is Ratcliffe is worth a lot.

The Athletic attempts to shed light on the complexity of evaluating just how much wealth a billionaire has. The Sunday Times Rich List claim that they do not know how much money is in personal bank accounts or small shareholdings in private portfolios. The publication can only judge on what they call “identifiable wealth” such as land, property, racehorses, art or shareholdings in listed companies.

The chemicals company INEOS, which Sir Jim owns 60% of, is also complex to say the least. The business is broken up into 36 different ones, located in 194 sites within 29 different countries. To make things slightly simpler, for accounting purposes the company is separated into three main holding companies of which, only two publish public accounts.

Assessing the wealth of the chemicals giant is a bit of a guessing game to say the least. However, the article claims that in 2022 INEOS posted a revenue of £35bn and profits of £3.5bn. The Forbes Rich List have also taken a stab at Ratcliffe’s overall wealth. Their 2023 edition has placed the British billionaire in 67th place in the world, with an overall personal wealth of $22.9bn. However, The Athletic feels Forbes have made the error of only crediting Sir Jim with INEOS´s visible wealth.

No matter what way you look at it, if Ratcliffe is successful in buying the 25% stake in the club, he has money to bring to the table. United fans and shareholders however, are not so confident. Share prices plummeted in the aftermath of Sheikh Jassim’s announcement that he had withdrawn from the process of taking over the club and only the British-born billionaire was left as a viable option.

The Athletic argues this is due to Red Devils fans feeling like they have lost a game show. They look enviously at the wealth of the nation of Qatar and wonder what could have been? Sheikh Jassim’s bid boasted that they would purchase all of the 69% of the club owned by the Glazer family while clearing the debts, in cash. Old Trafford would also have hypothetically seen a lavish makeover.

Although, the article does try to reassure United fans about Ratcliffe’s offer. It is reported that INEOS won’t be happy being a minority partner for long and will see the 25% stake as the first step in a full takeover. It is also stated that the chemicals company regularly takes on debt much greater than United’s but has a “good credit history” where banks call the company to lend money and not the other way around. The publication goes on to assert that INEOS will also put any new debt on their own books and not the club’s. The opposite approach of the current owners.

The Athletic finishes by claiming that Sir Jim grew up around 10 minutes away from the stadium and knows that the Mancunian team could comfortably sell another 15,000 tickets per home game. Therefore, investing in Old Trafford is seen as inevitable by the piece’s author. It is also noted that the British company has experience in construction projects much more complicated than that of a football stadium.

What can be concluded then is Sir Jim Ratcliffe has huge amounts of personal wealth. The questions that all Man United fans need answering are, how much and how well will he spend it to get the club back to where it believes it belongs?

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