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Millionaire boss of controversial energy firm lives in a £3.5m home that costs £850-A-MONTH to power

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The multi-millionaire boss of an energy company that sparked fury after recommending that households save on their heating bills this winter by ‘cuddling’ their cats or ‘doing a few star jumps’ owns a lavish £3.2million weekend home that costs a whopping £850-per-month to power.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder and head of Ovo Energy, Britain’s third-biggest energy supplier, enjoys the sprawling, five-bedroom property in the heart of the picturesque Cotswolds, close to Cirencester, which he purchased in 2019.

The stunning weekend home is set in 12 acres of pristine countryside and also has a swimming pool, four bathrooms and elegant dining room with stunning views, giving Mr Fitzpatrick and his family adequate space to follow his company’s controversial advice on how to stay warm which was slammed as ‘insensitive’ given Britain’s rising energy costs.

Ovo Energy boss Stephen Fitzpatrick owns this sprawling, five-bedroom home in the Cotswolds that has its own swimming pool and is now worth in the region of £3.2million

Ovo Energy boss Stephen Fitzpatrick owns this sprawling, five-bedroom home in the Cotswolds that has its own swimming pool and is now worth in the region of £3.2million 

Mr Fitzpatrick, 44, spends most of his time in London, spends weekends in the Cotswolds. He bought the property in a private sale for £2.85million in 2019, land records show

Mr Fitzpatrick, 44, spends most of his time in London, spends weekends in the Cotswolds. He bought the property in a private sale for £2.85million in 2019, land records show 

The stunning weekend home is set in 12 acres of pristine countryside and also has a swimming pool, four bathrooms and elegant dining room with stunning views

The stunning weekend home is set in 12 acres of pristine countryside and also has a swimming pool, four bathrooms and elegant dining room with stunning views

Mr Fitzgerald's firm Ovo Energy sparked outrage by sending some customers an email which included a blog advising hard-up customers of handy tips to keep warm during the fuel crisis

Mr Fitzgerald’s firm Ovo Energy sparked outrage by sending some customers an email which included a blog advising hard-up customers of handy tips to keep warm during the fuel crisis 

An email sent to Ovo Energy’s customers on Monday suggested that they could ‘get moving’ by doing ‘star jumps, cleaning the house or ‘challenging the kids to a hula-hoop contest’.

Other suggestions included having a ‘cuddle with your pets and loved ones to help stay cosy’, eating ‘hearty bowls of porridge’, sticking to ‘non-alcoholic drinks’ and eating ginger — but not chilli, ‘as it makes you sweat’.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who is worth an estimated £675million, is usually seen by locals and workers on his estate during the weekends.

Mr Fitzpatrick founded Ovo Energy in 2009

Mr Fitzpatrick founded Ovo Energy in 2009

His estate manager told MailOnline: ‘He’s at work, it’s highly unlikely he will be here today. It’s his weekend home and even then, he’s not here every weekend.’

The former rectory is reached down a quarter of a mile driveway of Cotswold stone chippings and the imposing black front door is flanked by two six-foot bay trees. A large khaki tepee complete with a built-in log burner stands in the front garden alongside an expensive children’s trampoline.

The stunning Victorian property which stands in lush countryside is the most expensive in the area and was described as an ideal family home when it was last on the market.

Mr Fitzpatrick has three children with his wife Sophie.

His estate manager added: ‘I find out when he’s coming on the day – he’s very busy either in London or Bristol.’

MPs slammed his company’s advice as ‘insulting’ and ‘offensive’ as Britons face a crushing cost-of-living crisis with one Government figure describing the suggestion to eat porridge and cut out alcohol as ‘like some Dickensian nightmare’.

The email was sent to customers of SSE Energy Services, which was bought by Ovo in 2020.

But unlike many of his customers, self-made multi-millionaire Mr Fitzpatrick is unlikely to face any problems meeting the energy bills for his weekend retreat.

According to energy website U Switch, which provides estimates for household energy costs, he could currently pay a minimum of £853 per month for gas and electricity.

This is based on U Switch’s ‘Dream House Calculator’ which takes into account the age of a property, its square metre size and which luxury features it may contain, such as: an Aga; boiling water tap; electric car charger; large wine fridge and swimming pool. Many of these are standard in top end homes. 

The stunning Victorian property which stands in lush countryside is the most expensive in the area and was described as an ideal family home when it was last on the market

 The stunning Victorian property which stands in lush countryside is the most expensive in the area and was described as an ideal family home when it was last on the market

According to energy website U Switch, which provides estimates for household energy costs, Mr Fitzpatrick could currently pay a minimum of £853 per month for gas and electricity

According to energy website U Switch, which provides estimates for household energy costs, Mr Fitzpatrick could currently pay a minimum of £853 per month for gas and electricity

But the minimum £853 figure does not take into account the expected April bills rise when Britain’s energy price cap is adjusted.

It could lead to household bills increasing by as much as 50% meaning Mr Fitzpatrick could end up paying a whopping £1,279 per month for his gas and electricity, if not more.

Mr Fitzpatrick founded Ovo Energy in 2009 and led its growth to become the largest independent energy provider in the UK, with around five million customers.

He co-founded the company with Sophie using £350,000 they raised by selling their first home. They have known each other since the age of 16 and with their children, enjoy an elaborate life of plush country living and exotic foreign holidays.

After establishing Ovo, Mr Fitzpatrick, who was born in Northern Ireland, became known as the ‘Robin Hood’ of the energy sector for taking on the big six established energy companies, who he accused of enjoying a monopoly and not providing enough choices for customers.

The son of a Belfast grocer he studied at Edinburgh University and then started a successful property newspaper before becoming a City trader, which he quit in his mid 30s to set up on his own with OVO.

Ovo Energy sent an email to customers on Monday listing ten 'simple and cost effective ways to keep warm this winter'. They included eating 'hearty bowls of porridge', sticking to 'non-alcoholic drinks' and eating ginger — but not chilli, 'as it makes you sweat'

Ovo Energy sent an email to customers on Monday listing ten ‘simple and cost effective ways to keep warm this winter’. They included eating ‘hearty bowls of porridge’, sticking to ‘non-alcoholic drinks’ and eating ginger — but not chilli, ‘as it makes you sweat’

In 2014, Mr Fitzpatrick controversially made headlines after it was revealed that he had taken £2million out of OVO, when it was struggling to break even, to buy a family home in Gloucestershire.

A keen Formula One fan, in 2015 he invested £30million of his own money into the Marussia F1 team after it went into administration.

Following the email, Ovo said: ‘We understand how difficult the situation will be for many of our customers this year. We are working hard to find meaningful solutions as we approach this energy crisis, and we recognise that the content of this blog was poorly judged and unhelpful. We are embarrassed and sincerely apologise.’ 

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Taoiseach’s family shaped by their working-class roots

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As a special needs assistant at Bunscoil Chríost Rí in Turner’s Cross on the south side of Cork city, Mairéad Martin-Richmond is often asked how she manages financially.

Martin-Richmond, a 59-year-old separated mother of two grown-up children, is a sister of Taoiseach Micheál Martin and says her family’s working-class roots keep her grounded.

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Hines invests in industrial portfolio in Northern Italy

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Hines has reached a binding agreement for an off-market investment to acquire 20 logistics assets located between Emilia Romagna and Lombardy through the Italian fund HEVF II Italy managed by Prelios SGR on behalf of the Hines European Value Fund 2 (HEVF 2). The transaction involves the acquisition of the real estate portfolio from four different selling companies and the simultaneous 15-year lease of the same portfolio to Snatt Logistica Group, a leader in the third-party logistics (3PL) sector focusing exclusively on the fashion industry. The portfolio of 20 logistics assets provides a total of 200,000m² of logistics space around Milan, Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Bologna. They are strategic, well-established logistic centres that enjoy effective, rapid connections with Italy’s main cities and the rest of Europe.

 

“We are pleased to start 2022 with an important investment in the logistics sector that consolidates our presence in the main intersections in Northern Italy. At Hines, we believe in the potential of the logistics sector in Italy and have set an investment target of around €1bn in 2022,” commented Mario Abbadessa, senior managing director & country head of Hines Italy. “We are proud to collaborate with Snatt Logistica Group, which is an international 3PL logistics leader in the luxury fashion industry, and we are certain that we will be able to develop a shared path for growth, guided by common values, including ESG, which is key to our DNA.”

 

Paul White, senior managing director and fund manager for HEVF 2 at Hines, said: “This is an attractive portfolio of assets with a strong, innovative tenant at the forefront of Italy’s fast-growing third-party logistics sector for the fashion industry. We believe that e-commerce will continue to drive long-term demand for high-quality logistics facilities in Italy’s northern cities, pushing the value of these investments forwards, while there is also a significant opportunity to enhance the sustainability performance of existing assets here. This is aligned with our ESG objectives as recognised by GRESB, with HEVF 2 achieving the award of Overall Global Sector Leader in the Diversified Office/Retail category for sustainability performance in 2021.”

 

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Latest Coveney gaffe shows new knack of ‘making small problems big’

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“Don’t mind your press releases,” a Fine Gael source was told by a more experienced hand on their first day in Leinster House; “If you want something out there, just say it in the PP [parliamentary party meeting].”

It’s a truism of Irish politics that these meetings – especially those of the two larger Government parties – leak like the proverbial sieve. This got worse during Covid, when virtual meetings meant members were unencumbered by the need to even appear interested, and journalists were freely briefed in real time. The content of the meeting, coupled with the observations of parliamentarians – arch, knowing, and unfiltered – populated twitter streams and news copy.

So, when Simon Coveney’s remarks about his surprise at the meeting between the Russian ambassador to Ireland and the head of the defence forces were promptly headline news, it can’t have been too much of a shock. “He knows he’s speaking at the leakiest meeting in Leinster House,” observed a source present.

Still, some in the room thought when Michael Creed raised the issue, Coveney would just “warble on like you normally do”. Instead, after a gap of several minutes while other questions were fielded, the Minister for Defence bit down. He said he was “surprised to put it mildly”, several sources present said, and questioned the judgement of it.

Afterwards, sources close to Coveney quickly asserted the Minister meant the tweet from the Russians, and the accompanying picture, were the issue, not the meeting. But multiple sources at the parliamentary party interpreted it as referring to the meeting, and what’s more, as a direct rebuke to the chief of staff. “The tone I got was he was f***ing livid,” said one source.

Either way, the remark was leaked, it was controversial, and early the next morning, Coveney was mending fences in the Dáil, expressing confidence in Clancy and contrition for having brought him into the line of political fire.

A kind interpretation, offered by some at the meeting, is that he feels honour-bound to respond fully to questions from parliamentary colleagues. There is likely truth to that. But equally, many believe he would have known his comments would have been controversial, open to interpretation as a rebuke to the head of the Defence Forces, and that it was meant as a shot across the bows.

Others postulate that – perhaps more worryingly – he didn’t detect the political risk inherent in the remarks, which the Opposition would say had undermined the Chief of Staff . “Simon should have known this was going to result in public comment,” said another person there.

That, in truth is the bigger concern – that Coveney’s bad run of form is down to a blunted political dexterity. “You’d know by the way he said it he wasn’t trying to cause controversy,” one colleague said – adding that it was, however, evidence of Coveney’s new knack of “making small problems into big ones”.

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