The owner of Hartlepool’s Able UK yard has seen his wealth go up by more than £50million according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.
Peter Stephenson and family are the fourth richest in the North East because of a £51million wealth increase in the past year to £483m.
Mr Stephenson, 71, founded Able UK in 1966 and has built it into a market-leading marine decommissioning and land development business.
In recent times he has invested £450million in a marine energy park on the Humber estuary’s south bank, offering state-of-the-art facilities to make wind turbines.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley topped the list once again.
Ashley remains the region’s richest man with a fortune now put at £2.437billion, up £277million on last year.
Ellis Short, who owns the Magpies’ rivals Sunderland AFC, has seen his wealth fall by £200million to £1billion after the Black Cats were relegated in successive seasons.
Short has since agreed a deal to sell the club to a consortium headed by the former owner of non-league club Eastleigh, Stewart Donald.
Like Sunderland, Newcastle United are also up for sale, although a deal to sell has not yet been reached.
Ashley recently spurned an from Amanda Staveley and her Middle East-backed investment vehicle PCP Capital Partners.
Ashley’s main source of wealth is his Sports Direct business worth £2.05billion.
The business’s recovering share price justifies raising Ashley to £2.437billion, though the 53-year-old’s wealth remains well down on the £3.75billion of four years ago.
Former Dragaon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne is ninth with £280m, up by £55m in the last 12 months.
Robert Watts, compiler of The Sunday Times Rich List, said: “Our North East Rich List epitomises the increasingly diverse range of ways the wealthy are making their money.
“Although property continues to be a big part of the picture, this part of the country is producing entrepreneurs making fortunes from fast fashion, software and online gambling.”
He added: “They say the surest way to become a millionaire is to start out as a billionaire - and then buy a football club. It’s a grim joke that Sunderland owner Ellis Short may not wish to hear right now. Short keeps his billionaire status in this year’s 30th Rich List by a whisker - but takes a substantial cut due to the Black Cats’ woes. It’s been a slightly better year for Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.”