Inside new Man Utd owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe's 'secret' life in the UK (2024)

NEIGHBOURS of Manchester United owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe have told of his secret life in an isolated corner of England - and lifted the lid on a row over his "bee factory".

Sir Jim, who in 2023 bought a 25 percent stake in United for £1 billion, is Britain's second richest man, with a net worth of £29.6 billion.

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He also owns Nice FC, Team Sky cycling and his firm Ineos is the main partner of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team.

The 71-year-old, who grew up on a council estate a stonesthrow from Old Trafford, spends much of his time in Monaco.

While not in the millionaires playground, he leads a quieter life in Hampshire's New Forest, enjoying sailing and adventure sports.

Since snapping up a ramshackle beachfront home in 2006, the businessman has carried out an extensive redevelopment of the site.

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But the work behind his CCTV and spike-riddled eight foot high walls has attracted fury over the years, with Sir Jim forced to see off four planning refusals on his home.

This week, the billionaire won his latest battle - an 18 month row over a honey factory on his land.

Do YOU have a story about United or Sir Jim? We PAY for stories! Get in touch: tom.hussey@thesun.co.uk

The businessman, who has spoken of his love of homemade produce, was accused of constructing an “industrial site” after he built two huge barns, a tennis court and a pergola without consent.

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Sir Jim applied for retrospective planning permission from the planning authority in 2022 as one neighbour accused of doing "what he wants with impunity".

Objecting to the plans in November 2022, they livid local said: "Yet more development from an industrialist who seems intent on turning this stretch of the Hampshire coast into an industrial site.

“And, as we have come to expect from billionaire elites, the belief that he can do what he wants with impunity as he can afford to pay more lawyers and fight local authorities.”

He urged the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) to “stand up” to wealthy owners who “seem intent on buying small houses and then by hook or by crook massively overdeveloping them”.

According to plans, one of the two sheds houses the “bee factory”, tractor, soil roller compactor, forklift, wood chipper, Turf Gator, lawn-mower, hedge-cutters and leaf blowers.

BEE-ING SERIOUS

Sir Jim's latest planning row centres around a "bee factory

The row rumbled for 18-months after he built after he built two huge barns, a tennis court and a pergola without consent.

He applied for retrospective permission from the planning authority in 2022.

According to plans one of the two unauthorised sheds houses the “bee factory”, tractor, soil roller compactor, forklift, wood chipper, Turf Gator, lawn-mower, hedge-cutters and leaf blowers.

Sir Jim has previously spoken of his love of homemade produce.

The other stores a cherry picker, trailer, tractor flail, fertiliser spreader, three chainsaws and a leaf sucker.

One furious neighbour said Sir Jim was turning his home into an "industrial site" and acting with "impunity".

After a long battle, the petrochemicals titan successfully argued his case and will not be forced to abandon his beekeeping facility.

The other is used for storing a cherry picker, trailer, tractor flail, fertiliser spreader, three chainsaws and a leaf sucker.

Sir Jim was granted retrospective planning permission to keep the two barns this week.

Following the victory, to neighbours spoke fondly of the billionaire but told The Sun he is rarely seen in the area.

One lady, who said she worked with him over 20 years ago "before he blew up", described a "nice" man who was kind and "humble".

She added: "I honestly don't have a bad word to say about him."

Another man, who has also worked for Sir Jim, said those who opposed the bee factory are "jealous".

He said: "It's just one of his many investments, he owns property in Lyndhurst, Hampshire cattle breeders, rows and rows of properties in Brockenhurst, just investments.

RAGS TO RICHES

SIR Jim Ratcliffe went from growing up in poverty on a council estate in the shadow of Old Trafford - to buying Man United years later.

His rags to riches story was thanks to extraordinary business intellect which allowed him to amass untold wealth in just a matter of years.

Sir Jim is the founder, chairman and majority owner of British petrochemicals empire Ineos, which he started in May 1998 to lead the buyout of a BP chemicals business.

The site in Antwerp was bought for £84m and employed 400 people.

Today, Sir Jim's Ineos operates 194 sites across 29 countries and employs more than 26,000 people.

The firm says it generates £52.6bn of revenue every year.

He was listed 2nd on The Sunday Times Rich List in 2023 - worth £29.7bn.

His worth has fluctuated massively in recent years, ranked 27th in the 2022 Rich List boasting an estimated wealth of £6.075bn.

Sir Jim was the UK's third highest individual taxpayer and forked out £110million in 2017-18, according to the Sunday Times tax list.

"I think he ferries people about in his helicopter.

"He's always in the South of France. I don't think he's ever down here.

"I think he was down here at Christmas time."

Sir Jim's property empire across the New Forest have one couple concerned.

The wife, who did not want to be identified, said she "worries" about his plans for the "rows and rows" of homes Sir Jim allegedly owns.

She said: "What if he takes over? What is his plan?"

The businessman's presence has also attracted bad characters.

One source said the billionaire was allegedly the target of burglars who ransacked his home several years ago.

The thieves are said to have made off with builders tools and equipment.

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Sir Jim's Ineos operates 194 sites across 29 countries and employs more than 26,000 people.

He was approached for comment.

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Inside new Man Utd owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe's 'secret' life in the UK (2024)

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