Jim Ratcliffe: Who is the prospective Manchester United purchaser

Chairman and creator of Ineos, Jim Ratcliffe

One of the wealthiest men in the UK, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has amassed a multibillion dollar empire by purchasing undervalued assets. His current goal is to purchase Manchester United.

Following the Glazer family's announcement in November that they were considering selling as they "explore strategic alternatives," the founder of Ineos formally entered the process to purchase the club in January.

United, a 20-time winner of the English Premier League, is currently third in the standings under new manager Erik ten Hag.

The Glazers have come under fire for what is viewed as a lack of investment in the team, which has struggled since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013 and hasn't won a trophy since 2017.

Sir Jim has always supported Manchester United. He was raised in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, the son of a joiner.

He was formerly referred to as Dr. No by labor unions due to his aggressive negotiating style.

Although estimates of Sir Jim's wealth vary, he has amassed a substantial fortune by purchasing and revitalizing abandoned pieces of other companies.

Approximately $15 billion (£12 point 5 billion) is how much Forbes estimates. , . as opposed to The Sunday Times Rich List. , . says it's closer to £6 billion and lists him as the 27th richest person in the UK.

Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay
Manchester United's Premier League season got off to a bad start as they dropped their first two matches, but the team is now third in the standings.

Ineos is a company Sir Jim founded from operations that were once owned by companies like oil tycoon BP. Its chemicals and raw materials are used in almost everything we touch on a daily basis.

Ineos operates out of 194 locations in 29 countries, where it generates sales of about £50 billion and employs over 26,000 people.

Its raw materials are used in everything from mobile phones and furniture to the packaging of cosmetics, medications, and food.

Chemicals and industry have always been a part of Sir Jim's life.

After earning a chemical engineering degree from the University of Birmingham in 1974, he worked for oil companies BP and Esso for a while before joining Courtaulds, a manufacturer of fabrics and chemicals.

Then, in 1989, he joined Advent International and took a step that would forever alter his career, entering the world of private equity.

Before he took the leap into co-owning a business on the basis of what would eventually become an established strategy, it taught Sir Jim the cut and thrust of making deals.

He and business partner John Hollowood paid £40 million in 1992 to acquire BP's chemicals division in Hythe, close to Southampton. When it went public on the London Stock Exchange in 1994, it had a value of £100 million.

The company, which went by the name of Inspec, later purchased BP's specialty chemicals business in Antwerp, Belgium. After leaving, Sir Jim founded his own company, Ineos, which purchased the Belgian company for £89 million.

Since then, Ineos has expanded to become a chemical powerhouse, making investments in contentious industries like fracking or through acquisitions.

Ineos Grangemouth petrochemicals plant
Ineos decided against closing its Grangemouth facility in 2013.

Sir Jim, who is also the majority shareholder of Ineos, has been able to complete deals quickly because he decided not to flog the business and thus had no City shareholders to consult.

He's developed a reputation for being a tough negotiator in labor disputes.

In 2013, with the threat of company-wide strikes over pay and pensions, he famously squared off against unions at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant and refinery in Scotland.

The conflict resulted in Ineos announcing it would close the plant and eliminate 800 jobs, earning Sir Jim the Bond villain moniker of "Dr. No.".

However, the company quickly changed its mind after the Unite union approved a survival plan to invest £300 million in the site to keep it open.

Sir Jim, who is no stranger to controversy, received flak in 2016 when Ineos brought the first shipment of shale gas (a product of fracking) into the UK despite fierce opposition from environmental organizations.

In 2020, he reportedly relocated from the UK to Monaco, which does not levy capital gains taxes or personal income taxes. Sir Jim refused to comment, but when the BBC questioned him about rumors that he would be moving to the principality in 2019, he said he tried to "give back to the UK" and had invested £2.5bn there.

Ineos owns Belstaff
Motorcycle clothing manufacturer Belstaff was acquired by Ineos.

Chemicals are no longer a focus of Sir Jim's business interests. He declared intentions to produce a new car based on the Land Rover Defender, which was withdrawn from production in 2016.

To put an end to hopes that it would be produced at a new plant in Wales, Sir Jim, who supported Leave during the Brexit referendum, announced in 2020 that the new 4x4 vehicle would be built in France.

Ineos acquired Belstaff in 2017, the upscale motorcycle clothing manufacturer whose jackets were once worn by actor Steve McQueen and used as models by people like David Beckham. The Mercedes F1 team and Ineos are partners as well.

And after Ineos purchased the former Team Sky, Sir Jim took over ownership of a well-known professional cycling team in 2019. The group is now known as the Ineos Grenadiers.

Whether or not these companies could be categorized as unloved is debatable, but Sir Jim was able to see that they had a lot of potential.

As the owner of the French team Nice and the Swiss team Lausanne-Sport, Sir Jim already has some involvement in football.

After owner Roman Abramovich put the London club up for sale in May, Sir Jim made an unsuccessful £4.25bn offer to purchase Chelsea.

He admitted to being a fan of Manchester United at the time and explaining to BBC Sport that he was not placing a bid for the Red Devils because they were not up for sale.

That has obviously changed since then.

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