How Jim Ratcliffe went from council house to astonishing net worth of £30bn – and why he almost risked everything | The Sun
MANCHESTER United investor Jim Ratcliffe went from a council house upbringing to an astonishing net worth of £15billion – after almost risking everything.
One of Britain's richest people grew up on a council estate before amassing a fortune which has just enabled him to take a major stake in Premier League football giants United.
His turnaround hinged on taking a gamble in 1998 by mortgaging his home and buying an Antwerp-based chemical company, which he and two friends transformed into Ineos.
He says he deliberated for a year over whether to go ahead, fearing he and his family could lose their home if the firm failed.
Sir Jim climbed to second in this year's Sunday Times Rich List, with his fortune put at £29.688billion.
Top place went to Indian-born British businessman Gopi Hinduja and his family, with estimated wealth of £35billion.
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Sir Jim is looking to finalise a 25 per cent stake in United, with reports suggesting he could invest £245million towards improving the club's infrastructure.
His potential plans for the Red Devils have sparked speculation over whether Dutch manager Erik ten Hag could be at risk of losing his job.
United have lost eight of their 15 matches so far this season, including consecutive 3-0 defeats this past week to Manchester City and Newcastle United.
An unpromising start in Sir Jim's life included being sacked from his first job only three days in, when bosses at BP found he had ezcema.
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Sir Jim, son of a joiner, was born in the Greater Manchester town of Failsworth and lived in a council home until aged ten.
The family then moved to Hull in East Yorkshire and he was educated at Beverley Grammar School before studying chemical engineering at the University of Birmingham.
He now lives in exotic Monaco and owns luxury items such as a £130m yacht named Hampshire II with its own beach club and a helipad.
He has said: "You should see a picture of the council house where I started out."
Sir Jim, now 71, later set up his own company Ineos – a chemicals multinational which employs 26,000 people worldwide.
It sells 60million tons of chemicals each year, with an annual turnover of £45billion.
He used high-yield debt to fund deals before buying unwanted operations from groups such as BP, whose refining and petrochemical arm Innovent was snapped up by Ineos in 2006.
That gave his firm refineries in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Scotland.
Sir Jim relocated Ineos' head office to Rolle in Switzerland in 2010 in a move which cut its annual tax bill by £100million.
Sir Jim has said: "I did have this inkling that I wanted to be successful — that I wanted to be a millionaire one day. But I was just dreaming, really."
He also recalled his dismissal by BP when just 21.
He said: "I was told, ‘You can’t work here with eczema. We can’t spend the money on training you for five years then find you’ve got an allergy, so you’re on your bike’."
'ORDINARY BACKGROUND' TO 'EXTRAORDINARY WEALTH'
He secured a role with rival petrol giant Esso, who sent him to the London Business School helping him become an expert in turning around failing firms – later prompting his move for Ineos.
The company has been based since 2016 in offices opposite upmarket store Harrods in Knightsbridge, west London.
The entrepreneur, on his second marriage and with three children, has homes in London and in Hampshire.
The boyhood Manchester United supporter revealed an interest in buying the Old Trafford club in January this year after the Red Devils were put up for sale by the US-based Glazer family.
He faced competition from Qatar's Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, looking to bid £5billion – but this remained short of the Glazers' £6billion valuation.
The Qatar bid was scrapped last month after their attempts to secure a 100 per cent takeover were resisted by the Glazers.
Sir Jim previously tried to buy Premier League rivals Chelsea last summer when Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich was forced to sell by sanctions imposed after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
But his £4.25billion bid was rejected, before US investor Todd Boehly and his consortium took charge instead.
Ineos owns France's top-flight Ligue 1club Nice, as well as Swiss side Lausanne and a third of F1 motor racing team Mercedes.
His Team Ineos cycling team has won seven Tour de France titles, with stars riders such as Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas.
Sir Jim was knighted for services to business and investment in the late Queen Elizabeth II's 2018 Birthday Honours list.
Rich List compiler Robert Watts has said of him: "This is a guy from an ordinary background who has created extraordinary wealth very quickly. He seems unaffected by the wealth.
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"He’s calm, quiet and doesn’t have the brashness you might think a billionaire would.
"Ratcliffe shows you don’t have do well in the classroom or be anything special early in your working life to make it as an entrepreneur."
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