Belfast Telegraph

Oil billionaire's £130m floating palace makes waves down in Belfast docks

Luxury private yacht with its own helipad, bar and wine cellar drops anchor in Belfast

By Cate McCurry

It's a superyacht that wouldn't look out of place in the south of France - but this multi-million pound luxury ship is moored in Belfast.

The Hampshire II - a £130m vessel - made its grand entrance yesterday morning following its long journey from Malta.

Moored next to the SSE Arena until tomorrow, the opulent yacht has stopped off in the city to refuel - some 60,000 litres - before leaving for its next destination.

The ship has been owned by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe since 2012 and was built by Royal Van Lent, a shipyard in The Netherlands that constructs yachts for the rich and famous.

He is founder and CEO of Ineos, one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world.

However, it is not known if Mr Ratcliffe, who started working at Esso as a chemicals engineer, is in Belfast with his craft.

The Hampshire II sleeps 14 guests and can also accommodate up to 23 crew to ensure a pampered and relaxed luxury experience.

Crew members told the Belfast Telegraph they were taking a day off today to explore Northern Ireland.

Hampshire II offers its accommodation in seven luxurious suites.

Guests can enjoy a bar on the upper deck, or visit a wine cellar below, which has an underwater viewing area.

Mr Ratcliffe's floating palace also mixes sophistication with fun, as the 82ft-tall crow's nest features a zip-wire to carry guests back to the deck.

This, Mr Ratcliffe's second super yacht, costs millions a year just to maintain.

The 78-metre vessel was designed by Redman Whitely Dixon in the south of England, and features a classic, mahogany-panelled interior.

It has a beach club, and the helipad can be converted to a playing field for ball games.

The yacht is named after the largest county in south east England.

The huge vessel attracted plenty of envious stares from passers-by, with many stopping to take photographs beside the striking 255ft ship.

In 1998 Mr Ratcliffe formed Ineos to acquire the former BP site at Antwerp from Inspec, a company he had co-founded. In the next decade Ineos grew rapidly after several acquisitions.

Mr Ratcliffe acquired the unwanted operations from companies such as BP and Imperial Chemical Industries, and used high-yield debt to finance the deals.

His biggest acquisition was the £5bn purchase of BP's Innovene petrochemical operation, giving him refineries in Scotland, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium and Canada.

Ineos has 15,000 employees and sales of £27.5bn, with 60 manufacturing sites in 13 countries.

Mr Ratcliffe has a net worth of £3.7bn and resides in Switzerland.

Belfast Telegraph

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