In just nine years chemical engineer Jim Ratcliffe has quietly built a global chemicals giant by picking up unwanted subsidiaries from large companies such as BP, ICI and Dow._x000D_
Ineos was founded in 1998 when Ratcliffe, who is a qualified accountant and previously worked for Advent, the American private-equity house, led a £91m management buyout of Inspec’s chemicals division backed by Aberdeen Murray Johnstone. From headquarters in a leafy New Forest village, Ratcliffe then set about building a multinational chemical company through a series of acquisitions financed almost entirely by debt.
The company had a busy year in 2001, buying several businesses from ICI, including the £219m EVC unit. It also acquired Dow’s amine business and Degussa’s Phenolchemie operations for £264m. Two years later Ineos bought Degussa’s Methanova business for an undisclosed sum. And in 2005, it acquired two more operations, from BASF and Cybec. But the comp- any was still little noticed outside its industry.
It was Ratcliffe’s audacious £5.1 billion acquisition of Innovene, BP’s petrochemicals business, that catapulted Ineos into the leading ranks of the world petrochemicals industry. The deal also signalled a shift in direction away from specialist compounds towards the simpler chemicals from which they are made.
The purchase more than quadrupled Ineos’s turnover, taking it from just under £4 billion in 2005 to more than £18 billion the year after. Ineos is now the third-largest petrochemicals player in the world, behind BASF and Dow Chemical, with 68 manufacturing facilities in 17 countries employing 14,500 people.
Following a record bond issue in early 2006 that raised £1.6 billion to refinance the purchase of Innovene, Ineos continued on the acquisition trail, buying BP’s German ethylene oxide business for £76m in the middle of last year._x000D_
The company is also investing in its own manufacturing facilities, with plans to build £60m biodiesel plants at the former BP site in Grangemouth and at Antwerp, and a £125m phenol acetone plant in China.
Ratcliffe owns about two-thirds of the business, giving him a paper fortune of £3.3 billion and putting him among the ten wealthiest people in Britain, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
This profile reflects the company at time of publication and does not reflect any changes that may have subsequently occurred. Fast Track and its sponsors do not endorse, guarantee or recommend investment in any of the companies.