Pearse Lyons and family
Animal feed, Biotechnology
Rank 2017

A fascination with yeast has seen Dublin-born Lyons, 72, brew up a billion-euro fortune. He runs and owns the majority of the Kentucky-based animal health and nutrition company, Alltech, which he began in his garage 37 years ago as a fermentation specialist. The company does not reveal accounts, making valuation difficult, but we lift it to €1.92bn. It has made 14 acquisitions in recent years, most recently that of Spanish company Solbiosur in December. It will bring Alltech’s sales to €3.4bn. The company sponsors the World Equestrian Games and gives to charity via its ACE Involvement Foundation. Lyons starts his day at 4am with a jog and frequently visits the company’s overseas operations, which stretch to 128 countries and employ 4,200 people. His children, Mark, 39, who is vice-president and heads its China expansion, and Aoife, 42, own small stakes. His Dublin-born wife Deirdre is a co-founder and looks after the creative design part of the business. Lyons, who has a doctorate in brewing, moved to Kentucky from Dundalk in 1976. After finding success through animal feed, he established a brewing offshoot in 1999. He also  plans a €5m whiskey distillery in the former St James’ Church in Dublin. In 2015 Alltech bought the Station Works craft brewery in Newry from the Ballyedmond family (qv).