Able UK owner’s wealth doubles in last 12 months

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The owner of Hartlepool’s Able UK yard has seen his wealth rocket in the last 12 months.

Peter Stephenson and family become the fourth richest in the North East because of a £232million wealth increase in the past year.

Mr Stephenson, 70 on Thursday, founded Able UK in 1966 and has built it into a market-leading marine decommissioning and land development business.

He is currently investing £450million in a marine energy park on the Humber estuary’s south bank, offering state-of-the-art facilities to make wind turbines.  

Able UK’s parent company made a £14.3million profit on £21.2million sales in 2015 and is worth its assets of £432million. The Stephenson family has full ownership.

Top of the regional list is Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, according to the new edition of The Sunday Times Rich List, set to be published this Sunday.

Ashley, 52, remains the region’s richest man with a fortune now put at £2.16billion. However, he has experienced a tough 12 months with his Sports Direct warehouses attracting negative media attention due to staff working conditions. The value of the Nottinghamshire-based operation is now £1.73billion, down from £4.5billion a year ago, and Ashley’s stake is now valued at £980million, down £270million over the same period.

Mr Ashley remains richer than both owners of rival North East football clubs Sunderland and Middlesbrough combined. Sunderland owner Ellis Short and Middlesbrough owner Steve Gibson are valued at £1.2billion and £195million respectively, with both individuals having experienced no change in their wealth over the past 12 months.

Newcastle United’s rivals Sunderland AFC are close to completing a miserable season that has seen them relegated to the second tier of English football.

Owner Ellis Short, 56, is actively cost-cutting to try and reduce the club’s £140million debt. Short, who made his fortune with Texas-based private equity firm Lone Star, remains the second wealthiest in the North East with a net worth of £1.2billion.

The Fenwick retail fortune continues to grow with Mark Fenwick and family now standing at £730million, up £30million on last year, making them the third richest in the region.

Rock star Sting, 65, remains one of the wealthiest in the North East after his North American tour with Peter Gabriel last year pulled in $28million box office receipts.

Chris Whitfield, 52, is a new entry and is worth £161million. Whitfield has a stake of more than 78% in UK Land Estates, which owns and operates 25 commercial estates.