The dream of many people is to be able to combine their business with a passion that motivates them in life. Without a doubt, billionaires have it much easier than average or at least they can do it in a big way. This is the case of Jim Ratcliffe (67 years), an independent man, who is considered by many British media to be the richest person in Britain and who in recent years has set out to create a sports empire because he is motivated by challenges and sport as much as he is enthusiastic about company. petrochemical company Ineos, which he calls “the biggest company in the world you’ve never heard of”.
His final investment: partnering with the Mercedes Formula 1 team to have his company name shine in the cars that champion Lewis Hamilton will drive next season. A wish for which he will pay 150 million euros in the five years in which the agreement has been set. An emotional decision but one that Ratcliffe plans to amortize as he believes that backing the most successful team on the Formula 1 grid will help open up markets for his company in places like China and the Middle East, areas where the sport has a large following. The deal was announced at a ceremony that took place in London on February 10, at which the businessman smiled, without hiding his satisfaction, next to Toto Wolff, executive director of the Mercedes F1 team.
Previously, the founder, president and executive director of the Ineos petrochemical group, which he owns 60% of the time, has ventured into other sectors of the sports world. First is the Laussane football team, which was acquired in 2017 and are currently top of the Swiss league. Then he tried to buy Chelsea for almost 2,400 million euros, although this operation was never closed. And last August Ineos acquired Nice, a French team for which he paid more than 106 million euros and for which he put his brother Bob in charge.
Also last year the business group became a lifeline for a successful but financially struggling cycling team, Sky where star Chris Froome rose. Nearly 54 million euros turned Team Sky into Team Ineos. A team that showed its potential by winning the Tour de France in its first year under the company brand Ratcliffe.
2018 is the year when business people choose to enter the world of regatta. And the challenge is clear in this area: if Ineos is to be associated with a competition, it will be none other than the Copa América. More than 143 million euros invested with a goal: to ensure that England choose to win this competition which has been resisting it for 170 years. Next year’s 36th edition of the America’s Cup will show whether more competitive ships and sails with the British billionaire’s company name printed on them are capable of doing so.
There are still other sports where Ineos sees his potential: athletics and in particular Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge. The petrochemical company financed the organization of the test with 17 million euros in which athletes managed to complete a marathon in less than two hours for the first time in history. The mark does not apply to the IAAF, the worldwide governing body for athletics, but to the fans and Jim Ratcliffe who were overjoyed after completing the tests held in October 2019: “This marathon seems impossible. I am the happiest man in the world. Eliud’s house stretch was a great moment,” said the billionaire-turned-sports patron.
The son of a carpenter and clerk, Jim Ratcliffe grew up in a council flat near Manchester and graduated in Engineering from the University of Birmingham on a British Government scholarship. He started his fortune by buying and selling what the big corporations no longer wanted. Connecting in his first professional years with oil company BP and later to Esso, he made the leap into the world of investment funds in 1989 through Advent International and in 1992 he risked his entire fortune to acquire, along with other partners, the product division. BP chemicals in Hythe, UK for 50 million euros. Two years later the company’s value was 125 million.
In 1998 he founded Ineos, which currently employs 18,500 people and generates sales of over 55,000 million euros. Jim Ratcliffe’s personal wealth is estimated at around 23.5 billion euros. His purported passions are sport and his country, although in this case England eventually accused him of being a traitor, since in August 2018 he announced his decision to move his business to Monaco to benefit from his tax advantages.
A controversial decision that sparked the anger of colleagues and politicians who do not understand the attitude that has received this title. Sir for his services to the country, especially in the case of one of the most serious businessmen in deciding on a hard Brexit. Former British Liberal Democrat minister Vince Cable went so far as to say of him that he “presented himself to be a great patriot when he decided to move to the famed tax haven”. Cables that also have titles Sir He added to the royal honor bestowed on Ratcliffe: “It is a pity that when we made a national hero of a businessman to invest in the Kingdom, he disappeared into Monaco.”
Ratcliffe maintains the company’s headquarters in London for the sake of image, but he has to think that he will minimize the negative effects of his decision if he raises the British flag against the backdrop of future sporting victories, whether that be sailing, cycling, athletics, football or on the Formula circuit. 1. Business is business, and passion, homeland and sport, something very different.
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