Ineos billionaire Jim Ratcliffe in $2bn Saudi investment

UK energy firm Ineos is to invest $2bn (£1.6bn) in building its first ever manufacturing plants in Saudi Arabia. It follows an agreement with the Kingdom’s state oil company Saudi Aramco and French energy firm Total. Ineos said the facilities would produce chemicals for sectors such as automotive, aerospace and electronics. Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is Britain’s third richest man, called it “a major milestone that marks our first investment in the Middle East”. “We are bringing advanced downstream technology which will add value and create further jobs in The Kingdom.”

Under the deal, Ineos will develop three chemical plants at Jubail 2, a $5bn petrochemicals complex run by Saudi Aramco and Total. It said the plants, which will begin production in 2025, would give it better access to markets in the Middle East and Asia. It follows its recent investments by the company in Belgium, China and the US. Ineos has also been holding exploratory fracking tests in Britain, but recently complained that tough regulations were making it unviable for firms. Sir Jim argued ministers had given in to a “vocal” minority of environmental campaigners, despite fracking being “extremely safe and well proven”.

In May, the pro-Brexit businessman also rejected reports about him allegedly leaving the UK to live in Monaco for tax purposes. The billionaire said Ineos had invested £2.5bn in the UK over the last 20 years, and that he had “never made a penny of profit in the UK”. “I have made lots of money in the US, Germany and Belgium, but am I supposed to go and live there? It’s my private affair,” he told the BBC. Correction 3 June 2019: A previous version of this article was headlined Ineos director: TV chef attack on plastic ‘pretty pathetic’ and reported comments made by Tom Crotty, a director of Ineos, in an interview on the Today programme. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has since tweeted that Ineos “have been misled by some inaccurate reporting”.

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