Forbes Rich List features nine Irish businessmen

Michael O’Leary falls out while UK hedge fund manager joins after taking Irish passport post-Brexit vote

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has been dropped from the Forbes Rich List after a difficult year for the airline. Photograph:  Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has been dropped from the Forbes Rich List after a difficult year for the airline. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire


Nine Irish businessmen again feature on the Forbes Rich List this year but not the same nine as in 2018.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has been dropped from the list after a difficult year for the airline and its share price, which accounts for much of his reported wealth in the Forbes calculation.

Also missing is Glen Dimplex founder Martin Naughton.

They have been replaced by Kingspan founder and chairman Eugene Murtagh and John Armitage, a high profile Remain supporter in the Brexit referendum in Britain, who took out an Irish passport last year.

English-born Mr Armitage is a founder and chief investment officer of Egerton Capital, and one of the most successful hedge fund managers in the UK.

He was one of the top City donors to the UK Conservative party and contributed financially to the Pro-EU side ahead of the Brexit referendum. He is reported to have sharply reduced his financial support of Theresa May’s party over the past year.

Mr Murtagh remains a major shareholder in Kingspan, which has performed strongly in the past couple of years, boosting the group’s share price.

Fortunes have varied for the other seven Irish business figures who feature in the 2019 list of global billionaires.

The rapidly growing valuation for online payments technology business Stripe has seen the Collison brothers form Limerick, Patrick and John more than double their financial worth in the past year according to Forbes.

The two men are now worth $2.3 billion each and have risen to 1,116 in the rankings, from 2,124 last year.

Lone Star private equity group founder John Grayken, who renounced his American citizenship in 1999 for tax purposes and took an Irish passport instead, has risen to 215 in the list from 251.

His worth has risen to $6.9 billion, from $6.6 billion, on the back of his group’s success in buying up distressed assets around the world.

On the other side of the coin, telecoms billionaire Denis O’Brien has seen his value slip over the past 12 months in the Forbes calculations. Mr O’Brien, whose wealth peaked at $6.8 billion in 2015 is now worth $4 billion according to the list, down from $4.6 billion last year.

He falls almost 50 places from 456 to 504 in the 2019 rankings.

Fellow Independent News & Media shareholder Dermot Desmond has also dropped down the rankings, from 1070 to 1227 as Forbes assesses his wealth now at $2.1 billion, $200 million less than last year.

The other Irish figures on the list are Campbell Soup heir John Dorrance III, who ranks at 877 this year with wealth of $2.6 billion, down from 858 last year ($2.8 billion), and Indian businessman Pallonji Mistry.

Mr Mistry, who is Irish by virtue of his marriage, remains the highest ranking Irish businessman at 79th on the list, down from 66th in 2018. His wealth is assessed at $15 billion, down from $17.8 billion this time last year.

Overall, the list is headed by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, followed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett.