Delivering sales of £18.1bn and profits of £2.7bn in 2015, this firm continues to lead the pack of privately owned heavyweights. Include revenue from joint ventures and Ineos is a £26.9bn giant. Jim Ratcliffe, 63, founder and chairman of the chemicals group, has led it through an era of economic change and continues to develop its strategy and operations across the world.
Strategically, Ineos aims to become the UK’s leading player in shale gas. It plans over the next decade to invest up to £640m in exploration, gradually shifting from reliance on US imports towards locally sourced shale gas.
In March, it was reported that Ineos will be moving parts of its business back to the UK, having relocated in 2010 to Switzerland. This transition will be one of many initiated by Ratcliffe, who has built a portfolio of 15 businesses with 65 manufacturing facilities in 16 countries.
A chemical engineer and qualified accountant, Ratcliffe founded Ineos in 1998 when he led a £91m buyout of Inspec’s chemicals division. He then started acquiring the unwanted subsidiaries of chemical giants such as BP, BASF, ICI and Dow. The £5.1bn acquisition of BP’s petrochemicals business Innovene in 2005, including Scotland’s Grangemouth oil refinery, made Ineos the world’s third-largest chemicals manufacturer. Its chemicals and petrochemicals are used in products ranging from plastics to medicines and mobile phones.
More recent deals include the acquisition of a number of North Sea gas platforms supplying natural gas to one in ten UK homes, and the purchase of joint venture partner BASF’s 50% stake in plastics maker Styrolution for €1.1bn (£878m) in 2014. Likewise, Ineos announced in March that it was buying out Solvay, the co-owner of its Inovyn venture, for €335m – its revenues are included in the group total.
Despite the global challenges of volatile energy and commodity prices, Ineos’s future looks bright.
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