5. Sir James Ratcliffe

05 Sir James Ratcliffe
Age 68
Net Worth $17,3bn
Source of wealth INEOS
Nationality British
F1 involvement Team shareholder

Ratcliffe founded the company in 1998 and oversaw a rapid expansion by buying up unwanted assets from the likes of BP and ICI using high-risk debt to fund the company’s growth.

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Today the company has 26,000 employees, sales of $69bn, and 60 manufacturing sites in 13 countries.

The company is active in fracking and shale gas production in the UK, with Ratcliffe arguing, “You can’t have an energy policy that means you can only have a bath when the wind blows.”

He divides his time between Monaco and Hampshire, with the 2020 move to Monaco saving him an estimated £4bn in tax.

Ratcliffe is a fitness fanatic with expeditions to the North and South Poles, and a three-month-long motorbike trek in South Africa is under his belt.

He founded the charity “Go Run for Fun”, encouraging thousands of children aged between five and ten to get active by creating celebrity-driven events. The program has a very simple aim, to get as many kids between the age of 5 and 10 running as much as possible.

Amongst his billionaire toys are the $150m 256ft superyacht Hampshire 11 and the $100m 242ft superyacht Sherpa.

He owns five private jets, which are all registered to INEOS. He owns a Gulfstream G650 (M-OVIE), a Gulfstream G550 (M-USIC) and two Gulfstream G280s (M-ISTY & M-INTY), and a Dassault Falcon 2000EX (M-CHEM). He also owns an Agusta Westland AW139 helicopter.

Ratcliffe has been nicknamed “JR” after the scheming oil tycoon in Dallas and even “Dr No” after the James Bond villain.

INEOS, a private company until recently, was the biggest company ‘you’ve never heard of’. This all changed when Ratcliffe decided to enter the world of sports resulting in the ownership of INEOS America’s Cup sailing team in which his investment is in the region of £110m, the Team Sky cycling team he purchased and rebranded as Team INEOS, and football clubs FC Lausanne-Sport and OGC Nice.

This has led to accusations that Ratcliffe is using sport to ‘greenwash’ INEOS’s image, which environmental campaigners have called “planet-wrecking.”

Then we come to Formula 1, where he started in Feb 2020 by becoming a principal partner to the Mercedes F1 team – well, if you are going to do it, you might as well start with the best.

Using Red Bull as an inspiration, he recognised Red Bull as a brand that went from obscurity to global recognition, telling the Times newspaper, “Everyone on the planet has heard of them now.”

Then in Dec 2020, it was announced INEOS had purchased a 33.3% stake in the Mercedes F1 team to make it joint partners with existing shareholders Daimler AG and Toto Wolff.

This is all part of INEOS’s global ambitions as it moves into consumer markets with the upcoming launch of Ratcliffe’s 4×4 car, the Grenadier. Ratcliffe has sunk a £1bn into the project, so he means business.

In parallel to Red Bull’s AlphaTauri fashion brand, INEOS now owns the clothing brand Belstaff.

Let us not forget the launch of INEOS Hygienics during the Covid-19 pandemic. In reaction to a global shortage of sanitising products, INEOS built six factories each in under ten days to produce millions of bottles of hand sanitisers to supply hospitals free of charge.

F1 is attractive for Ratcliffe as he has a master plan for the next generation of ‘e -fuels’ commonly known as synthetic or green fuels.

F1, according to FIA president Jean Todt will embrace ‘e-fuels’. Todt told Auto Motor und Sport magazine that Formula 1’s plans to introduce ‘e-fuels’ in 2023 would even pave the way for better engine regulations.

INEOS is already heavily invested in biofuels through INEOS Bio, which owns a giant refinery in Florida.

What influence does Sir James Ratcliffe have in F1?

Well, it is easier to look at it from the other side and simply say F1 will be good for
Ratcliffe.

On a footnote, I’m not sure Mercedes PR people would have been pleased with Ratcliffe
at the launch of his involvement with the team when he suggested that “15 or 20 years
ago Mercedes was a taxi or an elderly gentleman’s car, and I would never have bought
one!”

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