Ireland’s nine billionaires increased collective wealth by €10.8bn last year

Stripe founders’ gains recognised on Forbes list of 2,668 people in ‘three comma club’

Ireland’s nine billionaires increased their collective wealth by a net $11.9 billion (€10.85bn) last year, a new ranking by US business magazine Forbes estimates.

Most of the surge in Irish billionaire wealth relates to the first recognition in the annual Forbes' Billionaires List of the $95 billion valuation gained by payments software company Stripe in March 2021, which sent the personal fortunes of its founders, the Collison brothers, soaring.

Forbes found that six of the Irish billionaires saw their wealth swell in 2021, while three saw theirs decline.

The Republic's richest person remains construction magnate Pallonji Mistry (92). The Indian-born Irish citizen controls engineering business, Shapoorji Pallonji Group, and holds a stake in Tata Sons, one of India's biggest businesses. He is worth $15 billion, up $400 million on last year, putting him at 125th on the Forbes list.

Mr Mistry is followed by Patrick Collison (33) and John Collison (31), whose wealth shot up to $9.5 billion each after a fundraising round that saw the valuation of Stripe almost triple in less than a year.

This is the first time this has been reflected in the annual Forbes list, meaning the brothers have jumped from joint 956th place, with $3.2 billion apiece, to joint 214th.

John Grayken (65), founder of Dallas, Texas-based private equity business Lone Star Funds, an active investor in the Republic, is in 386th place with an estimated fortune of $6.5 billion, down from $7.6 billion a year earlier. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts, Mr Grayken became an Irish citizen in 1999.

Digicel founder and owner Denis O’Brien (63) is at 778th in the list with wealth of $3.8 billion, down from $4.6 billion and 622nd place a year ago.

John Armitage (62), the British-born founder and investment manager of Egerton Capital who became an Irish citizen four years ago, was ranked 1,053rd with estimated wealth of $2.9 billion, up about €300 million.

Kingspan founder Eugene Murtagh (79) was close behind with $2.8 billion, Forbes said, up $500 million on a year ago, putting him in 1,096th place.

John Dorrance (78), an heir to the Campbell's Soup fortune, is at 1,163rd with $2.7 billion, up $100 million. 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.

Finally, Dermot Desmond (71) appears on the list in 1,445th place with a $2.1 billion estimated fortune, down from $2.2 billion.

Global wealth

The Forbes World’s Billionaires list, a snapshot of wealth using stock prices and exchange rates from March 11th, this year features 2,668 billionaires worth $12.7 trillion.

This was down from the record of 2,755 billionaires worth a record $13.1 trillion on last year’s list, with war, fallout from the pandemic and plunging stock markets denting the fortunes of some of the richest people on earth.

Some 329 people fell off the billionaires list this year, the most since the 2009 financial crisis, among them 169 newcomers to that status such as John Foley, the founder of fitness technology company Peloton, and Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of dating app Bumble.

But there were 236 additions to the ranks of the "three comma club" this year, among them pop star Rihanna, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and venture capitalist Josh Kushner.

And despite the volatile year, some 1,050 billionaires are wealthier than they were a year ago, Forbes said.

The list was topped by Tesla founder Elon Musk (50), who was worth an estimated $219 billion as of March 11th, his wealth having skyrocketed by $68 billion in a year after a jump in the electric vehicle maker's share price.

Mr Musk’s wealth has climbed again since this date, however, with the “real-time” fortune of the business magnate – who also founded aerospace company SpaceX and this week became Twitter’s largest shareholder and has been invited to join its board – estimated by Forbes to be more than $300 billion.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, French luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett complete the top five.

The world’s richest woman remains Françoise Bettencourt Meyers (68), whose grandfather founded beauty giant L’Oréal. She was ranked 14th overall with a fortune of $74.8 billion. Forbes found 327 women billionaires in total.

Geographical spread

The US has more billionaires than any other country, with 735, ahead of China with 607, India with 166, Germany with 134 and Russia with 83.

As a result of sanctions against Russia following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, there are now 34 fewer Russian billionaires and the fortunes of almost all of the Russians who held onto their billionaire status stagnated or declined from a year ago.

China’s super-rich “didn’t fare much better”, Forbes noted, with the number of Chinese citizens on the 2022 list dropping by 87 amid stock market weakness and a crackdown by Beijing on technology companies.

There are some 86 billionaires under the age of 40 and 12 are under the age of 30, it said.

Forbes first began this list in 1987. There are 19 times as many billionaires in the world now as there were then and they are 4,200 per cent richer today in nominal dollars. After adjusting for inflation, this represents a gain of 1,600 per cent.