Fuelled by strategic acquisitions, petrochemicals giant Ineos has topped the league table for a fifth consecutive year, cementing its place as the largest privately held company in Britain.
It is majority-owned by one of the UK’s wealthiest individuals, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who commands an £18bn fortune, according to The Sunday Times Rich List. He has a 60% share in the company he set up in 1998 with a £40m buyout of BP’s chemicals division.

Ratcliffe, 66, stunned the industry in 2005 with the £5.1bn acquisition of BP’s petrochemicals business Innovene, which landed him control of the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland.
The move placed Ineos among the world’s largest chemical manufacturers virtually overnight, and ushered in a decade of energy acquisitions and a joint venture in 2011 with PetroChina.
In recent years, Ratcliffe’s acquisitive streak has only intensified, with Ineos snapping up BP’s Forties pipeline for $250m (£190m) and Dong Energy’s oil and gas business for $1.05bn in 2017.
That year also saw the company diversify its interests, with Ineos Automotive launched to develop a 4×4 off-road vehicle, and the acquisitions of British clothing brand Belstaff and Swiss football team Lausanne Sport.

In March, Ratcliffe — an avid cyclist — took control of Team Sky, renamed Team Ineos; and in June was reported to have agreed to buy French football team OGC Nice for £90m.
His planned move to Monaco and lobbying in support of fracking — the company has secured licences to frack for shale gas across Yorkshire, the East Midlands and Cheshire — have seen the Lancashire native occupy his fair share of the limelight. But Ratcliffe, who runs Ineos flanked by his two lieutenants — Andy Currie and John Reece — each of whom owns 20% of the company, has doggedly pursued the firm’s main mission.

Ineos acquired the composites business of US chemicals firm Ashland Global in November for $1.1bn, and has announced a £2.4bn investment to build Europe’s first new gas cracker in 20 years at its site in Antwerp.

The group employs 21,000 people at 168 sites in 26 countries, producing 60m tons of chemicals a year — used in everything from car fascias to insulin for diabetics — and reported sales of £26.9bn in 2017, the latest figures available. Including revenue from joint ventures, turnover is $60bn.

A £1bn investment in the UK, announced in February, will see a £150m chemical plant built in Hull and a £350m energy plant at Grangemouth complement its planned £500m investment in the Forties pipeline, which is the UK’s main oil and gas artery to the North Sea.

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Company details
Year2019
Rank1
CompanyINEOS
ActivityChemicals manufacturer
LocationSwitzerland / UK
Sales £m*26,862
Profit £m*4,891
Year endDec 17
Principal shareholdersSir Jim Ratcliffe (60%), John Reece (20%), Andy Currie (20%)
Staff18,500
Founded1998
Websitewww.ineos.com

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* Supplied by company † Annualised figure