Who are the eight Irish billionaires?
We profile the richest men in the country
Names: John Collison and Patrick Collison
Ages: 27 and 29
Worth: $1.1 billion each (€900 million)
Bio: The two siblings from Co Limerick became self-made billionaires after they founded online payments company Stripe, which is valued at $9.2 billion.
The company employs more than 900 people globally, and counts firms such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, GE, Adidas, Docusign, Slack, Nasdaq and the NFL among its customers.
Name: Pallonji Mistry
Worth: $14.3 billion (€11.7 billion)
Bio: Mistry’s obtained Irish citizenship when he married his wife Pat in 1939. Described by Forbes as a “reclusive tycoon”, he controls the 152-year-old Mumbai-headquartered engineering and construction giant Shapoorji Pallonji Group.
The family’s biggest asset is an 18.4 per cent stake in Tata Sons, holding outfit of the $100 billion Tata Group, a conglomerate of 100 companies. The S.P. Group, run by Mistry’s older son Shapoor, also owns Eureka Forbes, the country’s leading brand of water purifiers.
Name: John Grayken
Worth: $6.6 billion (€5.4 billion)
Bio: Raised in a suburb south of Boston, John Grayken renounced his American citizenship in 1999 for tax purposes and became an Irish citizen. He is the founder and sole owner of Dallas-based private equity firm Lone Star Funds.
Lone Star manages $70 billion and focuses on distressed assets, often linked to real estate.
Grayken bought Boston’s most expensive condo for $33 million in 2016, but spends most of his time in London. His firm is headquartered in New York.
Described by Forbes as “exceptionally secretive”, Grayken specialises in buying distressed real estate assets all over the world, from the US to Europe and Asia, wherever there is an economic downturn or crisis.
The assets Lone Star buys are managed by Hudson Advisors, a firm with 850 employees and based in Dallas that Grayken also owns. Lone Star also operates 73 hotels in Ireland and the UK under several brands.
Name: Denis O’Brien
Worth: $5.4 billion (€4.4 billion)
Bio: Born in Cork, O’Brien runs and owns 94 per cent of Digicel, a mobile phone network provider that operates in the Caribbean and Asia Pacific in Haiti, Panama, El Salvador and Papua New Guinea.
O’Brien made his money after his company Esat Digifone was awarded the State’s second mobile phone licence in 1996. He then sold Esat Telecom – which owned half of Esat Digifone – to British Telecom for €2.4 billion.
The awarding of the licence was shrouded in controversy however after the Moriarty Tribunal concluded it was “beyond doubt” that then communications minister Michael Lowry provided O’Brien with information “of significant value and assistance” in return for a large sum of money.
O’Brien also has significant media interests. He owns Communicorp, which runs a number of radio stations including Newstalk and Today FM. He is also a majority shareholder in Independent News and Media.
Name: John Dorrance
Worth: $2.7 billion (€2.2 billion)
Bio: Heir to the Campbell’s Soup fortune, his grandfather invented Campbell’s formula for condensed soup. His relatives are still the company’s largest shareholders, but he sold his 10.5 per cent stake in the mid-1990’s and emigrated to Ireland.
Forbes says the Irish government reportedly gave him citizenship when he spent $1.5 million planting trees.
Name: Dermot Desmond
Worth: $2.2 billion (€1.8 billion)
Bio: Desmond started his career in finance at Citibank, and later worked for the Investment Bank of Ireland and PricewaterhouseCoopers before founding NCB Stockbrokers in 1981.
It eventually became Ireland’s largest independent brokerage. He sold it for $39 million in 1994.
With the proceeds, Desmond started his own private equity firm, International Investment & Underwriting, which now has stakes in travel software firm Datalex, Mountain Province Diamonds, Barchester Healthcare and Glasgow soccer club Celtic.
Name: Martin Naughton
Worth: $2.3 billion (€1.9 billion)
Bio: Naughton founded Glen Dimplex, the largest global manufacturer of water and electric space heating.
As a student, Naughton spent months in hands-on aeronautical and mechanical engineering training. He founded Glen Electric with a handful of people in 1973, selling oil-filled radiators.
He then acquired the much larger British heating company Dimplex four years later, renaming his company Glen Dimplex. He became Glen Dimplex’s sole owner in 2003.
According to Forbes, Naughton enjoys collecting art and serves as a trustee emeritus at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he helps fund a student exchange fellowship between the university and leading Irish universities. He was knighted by Prince Charles in 2016.