Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland estate agents join Rory McIlroy and Liam Neeson on Irish rich list

 

By Jonathan Bell

Two Co Antrim brothers are the highest newcomers to the Sunday Times Rich List.

Among the usual array of stars of stage, screen and the sporting world are the little-known siblings Michael (44) and Kenny (42) Bruce from Larne.

Their online company Purplebricks has turned the tables on the estate agency business in the same manner as taxi tech firm Uber and the accommodation website Airbnb have in their respective spheres, by offering householders a flat rate to sell their homes, potentially saving thousands of pounds.

Kenny Bruce has pledged to invest heavily in hometown football club Larne, while brother Michael splurged out on an Aston Martin after his wife reportedly told him he was a "miserable swine" for not spending any cash.

The brothers and family own around 17% of Purplebricks and The Sunday Times estimates their wealth to be around £190m.

Overall there were 75 Northern Ireland millionaires plus one billionaire family among the top 300 richest in all Ireland.

They have a combined wealth of more than £10bn, which roughly equates to what it takes to run Northern Ireland for a year.

The Ballyedmond family were the richest Northern Ireland people on this year's list. The family behind the successful Norbrook Laboratories have an estimated wealth of £1.63bn.

Norbrook is considered among the world's leading veterinary pharmaceuticals firms.

It was founded in 1969 by the late Eddie Haughey, later Lord Ballyedmond.

Lady Ballyedmond and her family were sixth overall in the top 300 for Ireland.

The 70-year-old inherited the Norbrook Laboratories business after her husband died in a helicopter accident in 2014.

Second spot for Northern Ireland went to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

The Hollywood power couple produce television shows including the Apprentice in the US, which featured Donald Trump.

Their combined fortune was estimated at £387m.

Ballymena man and Hollywood A-lister Liam Neeson topped the actors' list with an estimated bank balance of just under £100m.

Meanwhile, golfer Rory McIlroy was Ireland's wealthiest sportsman. The Co Down star was ranked at 117th with a fortune estimated at £100m.

Elsewhere, businessman Eoin McCann has seen £79m in gains in the past year and is now standing at £200m and joint eighth in Northern Ireland's Rich List.

McCann (61) runs the UK's largest manufacturer and supplier of precast concrete products. His Magherafelt-based FP McCann, where he is managing director, is also heavily involved in civil engineering, working on projects as diverse as sports halls, car parks, and the Coleraine-Londonderry railway.

The Sunday Times Irish Rich List surveys the wealth of the richest individuals and families on the island of Ireland in a variety of areas including entertainment, sport, business, technology and construction using accounts, annual reports, shareholder filings and other sources.

It is compiled by journalists Colm Murphy and Robert Watts. Those with wealth of over £45m made it onto the list.

Topping the overall Irish list was the Weston family who own the food and retail empire George Weston, which includes household names such as Primark, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and Dublin's Brown Thomas. Their wealth was put at a staggering €10bn.

Also making the list was U2 with a fortune estimated to be over €647m, along with ex-One Direction star Niall Horan, chat show host Graham Norton, country crooner Daniel O'Donnell and singer-songwriter Enya.

Belfast Telegraph

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