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Tycoon Mary tops Northern Ireland’s wealth list

Lady Ballyedmond wealthiest despite drop in profits

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Lady Ballyedmond

Lady Ballyedmond

Paddy McKillen

Paddy McKillen

Eoin McCann, managing director of FP McCann

Eoin McCann, managing director of FP McCann

Down-born Chris Rea has built up Aes Engineering into the world's biggest manufacturers of mechanical seals

Down-born Chris Rea has built up Aes Engineering into the world's biggest manufacturers of mechanical seals

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.

Getty Images for for J/P HRO Gal

TG Eakin chief executive officer Paul Eakin (right), company chairman Tom Eakin (centre) and managing director Jeremy Eakin (left)

TG Eakin chief executive officer Paul Eakin (right), company chairman Tom Eakin (centre) and managing director Jeremy Eakin (left)

Martin Naughton and Carmel Naughton

Martin Naughton and Carmel Naughton

�Kelvin Boyes / Presseye

Dr Peter Fitzgerald Managing Director of Randox Laboratories at  Randox Science Park in Antrim.

Dr Peter Fitzgerald Managing Director of Randox Laboratories at Randox Science Park in Antrim.

Lady Ballyedmond

Billionairess businesswoman Lady Ballyedmond has retained her place as Northern Ireland's richest person despite her wealth reportedly dropping by £293m in 12 months.

The pharmaceuticals tycoon, who is vice-chairman of Newry-based Norbrook Laboratories, kept her place at the top of Northern Ireland's Sunday Times Rich List despite an 82 per cent drop in profits in 2018-19.

Despite the decline, attributed to supply chain problems and manufacturing difficulties, the family's overall wealth still stands at a staggering £1.345bn.

Lady Ballyedmond, formerly Mary Haughey, is the widow of Norbrook founder Baron Ballyedmond, Edward Haughey.

Coming in a close second is Martin Naughton and family who have also seen their overall wealth drop £74m to £1.158bn, according to the paper.

The family owns Glen Dimplex in Newry which is the world's largest maker of electric heaters and suffered a £5.98m loss in 2018 across £1.14bn in sales.

The deficit was put down to an £18.48m restructuring, the Brexit slowdown and a change in its accounting period.

Other interests belonging to the family include a Co Meath estate, an art collection, a Co Louth shopping centre and a quarter share in Dublin's Merrion hotel as well as a minority stake in the five-star Park hotel in Kenmare, Co Kerry.

Both Mary Haughey and Martin Naughton remain the richest people in Northern Ireland despite losing a combined total of £367m.

Bucking the downturn at the top, all eight millionaires in NI's top 10 have seen increases in their wealth over the last 12 months.

Engineering boss Chris Rea saw the biggest increase in riches with a £50m boost, according to today's Rich List.

Recently made a CBE in the New Year honours list, Mr Rea began working at the age of 11, picking potatoes and manning petrol pumps in his native Co Down.

He later moved to South Yorkshire and joined seal manufacturer AES, taking control in 1979 when it was crippled by debt.

With profits rising to £27.7m in 2018 and showing £116.5m in assets, the renamed AESseal is now a £260m business with Rea's 70 per cent stake valued at £182m.

Another NI businessman to see a rise in his fortune is Peter Fitzgerald whose Randox Health business has been at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus.

The Crumlin company shipped the first batch of newly-developed tests to Wuhan in March and won a £133m government contract to produce the kits shortly afterwards.

Mr Fitzgerald's wealth is up £10m from last year, the list claims.

Robert Watts, the compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: "The province's wealthiest entrepreneurs and business leaders have fared better than those on the UK mainland, with just two entries in our Northern Ireland Rich List seeing a fall in their wealth over the past year.

"It is too early to assess the economic impact of the Covid pandemic and we expect next year's Sunday Times Rich List will show further declines in wealth."

In the overall standings inventor James Dyson is the richest person in the UK for the first time. The Brexit-backing entrepreneur saw his wealth grow by £3.6billion over the past year, climbing to £16.2billion.

In February, the number of billionaires had been expected to rise to nearly 160 but fell by four to 147 as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Belfast Telegraph