The party may not be over for Ireland’s nine billionaires but it is perhaps being dialled down after their collective wealth plummeted by more than a third over the past year, according to the latest ranking by US business magazine Forbes.
Overall, falling stocks, wounded unicorns and rising interest rates translated into a year of setback for the world’s wealthiest people.
The Forbes World’s Billionaires list, a snapshot of wealth using stock prices and exchange rates, shows 254 people have lost their billionaire status.
For the second straight year, both the number of billionaires around the globe has declined – from 2,668 in 2022 to 2,640 this year – and total billionaire wealth fell, down by $500 billion to $12.2 trillion as turbulent times have hit both public and private markets.
Nearly half the list is poorer than a year ago, including Elon Musk, who falls from first place to second after his pricey acquisition of Twitter helped sink Tesla shares.
Bernard Arnault, head of luxury goods giant LVMH, has taken his place as the world’s richest person, marking the first time a citizen of France leads the ranking.
In Ireland, our nine billionaires – who are all male – are worth $36.2 billion (€33 billion), which is down significantly on the $54.8 billion they were valued at last year.
Ireland’s richest man, Mumbai-based Shapoor Mistry (58), is a new entrant on the list and ranked the 332nd richest person in the world, taking the mantle from his father and group patriarch Pallonji Mistry (92) who died in June. Three months later, Shapoor’s younger brother, Cyrus, died in a car crash aged 54.
Shapoor now controls the 157-year-old engineering and construction giant Shapoorji Pallonji Group. Cyrus was chairman of Tata Sons for four years until October 2016 when he was ousted. The family’s biggest asset is an 18.4 per cent stake in Tata Sons, the holding company for the $128 billion Tata Group.
Shapoor is worth $7 billion. His father was last year worth $15 billion.
Seven of the eight remaining Irish billionaires from last year saw their wealth fall over the period, with only financier Dermot Desmond, who has a number of business interests, seeing his worth grow marginally – from $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion.
Among the biggest losers on the list were the Collison brothers, John and Patrick, from Co Limerick who were hit hard by the ongoing turbulence in the tech industry. Their online payments company Stripe last month raised $6.5 billion in a funding round that valued it at $50 billion. At its peak valuation in 2021, the company was worth $95 billion, but that has fallen in recent months.
The brothers’ estimated wealth last year was $9.5 billion apiece following the phenomenal success of Stripe which had almost tripled in valuation in less than a year. This year, however, both men have seen their wealth drop to $5.5 billion, which drags them down to 466th rank from 214th in 2022.
John Grayken (66), founder of Dallas-based private equity business Lone Star Funds – an active investor in the Republic – is Ireland’s second richest man. His overall ranking is 405th, with an estimated fortune of $6.3 billion, down from $6.5 billion a year earlier.
Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Mr Grayken renounced his US citizenship and became an Irish citizen for tax purposes in 1999.
Next in line is Digicel founder and owner Denis O’Brien (64) who is ranked 1,104th in the list with wealth of $2.7 billion, down from $3.8 billion last year.
Mr O’Brien made a fortune selling his Irish mobile outfit, Esat Telecom Group, to British Telecom in 2000 for $2.8 billion. The deal was the subject of critical findings by the Moriarty tribunal, but Mr O’Brien has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Mr O’Brien sold his stake in Independent News & Media to Mediahuis in 2019, losing hundreds of millions of euro on the investment. He made another media industry exit in 2021 by selling Communicorp, a radio company, to Bauer Media.
Next in line for Ireland is John Dorrance (79), an heir to the Campbell’s Soup fortune, who is valued at $2.6 billion, down $100 million on the year before. His grandfather, John T Dorrance, invented Campbell’s formula for condensed soup.
Mr Dorrance’s relatives are the company’s largest shareholders, but he sold his 10.5 per cent stake in the 1990s and moved to the Republic.
John Armitage (63), the British-born founder and investment manager of Egerton Capital who became an Irish citizen five years ago, has estimated wealth of $2.3 billion, down about €600 million on last year but enough to rank him at 1,312 among billionaires.
Kingspan founder Eugene Murtagh (80) closes out the Irish list with $2.1 billion, Forbes said, down $700 million on a year ago.