British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his company Ineos have officially stated an interest in buying Premier League giants Manchester United.
The Glazer family, who bought the club in 2005 confirmed in November last year that they are considering selling the club as they explore “strategic alternatives.”
It’s been a turbulent campaign for Manchester United and their fans this season.
Star player Cristiano Ronaldo had his contract ripped up by mutual consent in November after making disparaging comments about the club and their ownership and there have been numerous fan protests throughout the season directed at the Glazers.
The Americans’ controversial time in charge of the Premier League side has even led to the founding of a new football club: FC United of Manchester. Their reign has also coincided with (and likely contributed to) a downturn in Man Utd’s on-field fortunes which has seen them go nearly 10 years without a Premier League trophy.
Man Utd currently sit fourth in the table, nine points behind league leaders and former bitter rivals Arsenal. The Red Devils struggled in the early part of the season with lacklustre performances against Brentford and Brighton, however they are now beginning to find their feet under new manager Erik Ten Hag.
The club’s fans have often spoken about their desire for a fresh ownership model and one of the people in the running to buy the club is billionaire Ineos CEO Jim Ratcliffe. But how did he make his fortune? Here’s what you need to know.
Who is Jim Ratcliffe?
Jim Ratcliffe is a 70-year old British billionaire. Born in Oldham but based in Monaco, he is the owner, chairperson and CEO of Ineos.
The company is a global chemicals manufacturer that produces everything from packaging to smartphone casings and paint.
Despite being brought up closer to Manchester City’s stadium than Old Trafford, Ratcliffe very much represents the red half of Manchester - he is a boyhood Manchester United fan and remains an avid supporter of the football club.
Ratcliffe’s company Ineos released a statement in January 2023 confirming that they had formally put themselves into the process of bidding for the club.
Ratcliffe has other sporting interests, being the owner of France Ligue 1 team Nice, Swiss top flight team FC Lausanne-Sport, cycling team Ineos Grenadiers (named after a new car) and Sir Ben Ainslie’s sailing team. Ineos is also a key sponsor of the Mercedes F1 team and the New Zealand All Blacks rugby union side.
In recent years, Jim Ratcliffe has attempted to add Chelsea FC to this stable of sporting institutions. He made a bid for the club in 2019, and attempted to buy it out again in 2022 when Roman Abramovich was forced to sell up his stake in the West London team as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, he lost out to American businessman Todd Boehly.
Ratcliffe’s connection to sport - particularly through the Ineos brand - has led to accusations of sportswashing. Ineos and Jim Ratcliffe have both been vocal supporters of the controversial natural gas extraction practice fracking, and have lobbied against environmental taxes.
The business has previously insisted it is committed to tackling the climate crisis. Ratcliffe himself has also faced criticism for moving to low-tax territory Monaco in 2020 despite being a major Brexit supporter.
He was knighted in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2018 for services to business and investment.
How did Jim Ratcliffe make his money?
Jim Ratcliffe started his career as a chemical engineer at Exxon Chemicals, after graduating from the University of Birmingham. He then studied at the London Business School, where he received an MBA in accounting, before moving to defunct manufacturing firm Courtaulds.
In 1992, Jim Ratcliffe led a buyout of Inspec Group - a chemicals firm owned by BP. He then formed Ineos to acquire part of Inspec.
Ineos rapidly grew as it acquired petrochemical firms around the world. With Jim Ratcliffe owning a significant proportion of the business, the rise in the company’s fortunes has led to a significant rise in his own personal wealth.
What is Jim Ratcliffe’s net worth?
Forbes lists Jim Ratcliffe’s net worth as being $13.5 billion (£11.1 billion). Given he does not officially live in the UK, he does not feature in the Sunday Times Rich List.
But based on his current wealth, he would be the country’s tenth richest person. He also ranks as the world’s 128th richest person.