Family of tragic pharma magnate Ballyedmond top rich list with £1.4bn
The widow of Norbrook tycoon Lord Ballyedmond has held on to her spot at the top of Northern Ireland's rich list with a fortune worth £1.4bn.
Lady Mary Ballyedmond and family, who own Norbrook Laboratories, a leading veterinary pharmaceutical firm, are named in The Sunday Times Rich List, published this weekend.
It comes weeks after the company reported sales growth of £216m in the last year, up 8.5%.
Following Lord Ballyedmond's death in a helicopter crash in 2014, Lady Ballyedmond (68) took the company's reins. Sons James and Edward are also directors of the firm, which is valued at £1bn.
Under Lord Ballyedmond's leadership, profits hit £22.1m on £198.7m of sales in 2013-14. He left £344m in his will, which together with art, property and land keep the family at £1.4bn, the same value as last year. The second spot is taken by Londonderry-born actress Roma Downey (55) and her producer husband Mark Burnett, who are worth £375m.
Downey and Burnett are the Hollywood power couple behind mini-series The Bible, in which Downey starred as Mary, and other faith-based programmes. MGM bought a 55% stake in their production company for $343m (£238.5m) in 2014, and last December the couple exchanged their remaining holdings for £83m worth of MGM shares.
Hot on their heels are brothers Paul and Jeremy Eakin, who have amassed a £310m fortune from the manufacture of products dealing with the discharge of human body waste. Their company, Co Down-based TG Eakin, was founded by their pharmacist father, Tom, and is worth an estimated £300m.
Fourth in Northern Ireland's rich list is leading businessman John King, a former university lecturer who made his name with pharma firm Galen, now Warner Chilcott. His wealth is valued at approximately £190m.
Elsewhere, Belfast-born Paddy McKillen joins the list with a £156m fortune, based largely on his worldwide commercial property portfolio. McKillen, who currently lives in south Dublin, was at the centre of a legal battle with twins Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay for control of the luxury Claridges hotel in London. He sold his 36% stake - which also encompassed two other prestigious London hotels the Berkeley and the Connaught - last year for more than £624m, more than enough to clear any debts.
The Sunday Times Rich List charts the wealth of the 1,000 richest people in the UK and the 250 richest in Ireland.
The list is based on identifiable wealth, including land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, and significant shares in publicly quoted companies.
However, it excludes bank accounts, to which the paper has no access.
1. Lady Ballyedmond and family £1.4bn
2. Mark Burnett, Roma Downey £375m
3. Paul and Jeremy Eakin, £310m
4. John King £190m
5. Danny Hill £183m
6. Robert Barnett and family £182m
7. Kevin and Michael Lagan £160m
8. Paddy McKillen £156m
9. Brian Conlon £127m
10. Chris Watson and family £126m