Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire industrialist behind the Ineos chemicals’ empire, has moved back to Britain six years after relocating to Switzerland.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Ratcliffe revealed he had become a UK tax resident on 1 May. He said ths move was “encouraged” by the tax cuts of former chancellor George Osborne but added it was “mainly for business reasons”. UK shale gas is big focus for the firm.
Ratcliffe said last year that he envisaged redomiciling Ineos within three years. He is setting up a new holding company, based in Knightsbridge, that will house roughly half of the group’s global business including its oil and gas arm. The rest of the £30bn-a-year business will remain under Ineos’ other holding company in Rolle, Switzerland.
Ineos employs 17,000 people around the world and owns the Grangemouth refinery near Falkirk.
Ratcliffe left the UK in 2010 after Ineos was refused tax breaks by the government. Ineos had been hard hit by a debt crunch during the financial crisis.
Its return is set to be welcomed by the exchequer.
Separately, Ineos has confirmed that it has commissioned a full feasibility study into resurrecting the Land Rover Defender and held exploratory talks with Jaguar Land Rover about the proposal.
Ineos has committed to treating the Defender’s much loved exterior shape “like a listed building”, making as few modifications as possible.
The company proposes substantially upgrading much of the vehicle engineering with the goal of matching the Toyota Landcruiser for reliability but keeping the Defender’s superior off road qualities. The new vehicle would also be capable of meeting all the latest global safety and emission standards.
“I am a great admirer of the Land Rover Defender”, said Ratcliffe. “I think it can be upgraded to be the world’s best and most rugged off roader”.
Should the project go ahead, Ineos hopes to make the new model in the north of the UK, preferably near a port facility.
Ratcliffe adds: “I am a passionate advocate of UK manufacturing and the Land Rover Defender has been a part of the British motoring scene for over sixty years. We want to breathe new life into it and make it even better than before.”