Petrochemical maker Ineos has been investing heavily in the past two years, acquiring BP’s Forties pipeline for $250m (£190m) last April and Dong Energy’s oil and gas business for $1.05bn last May. These acquisitions helped the group report sales of £26.9bn and profits of £4.9bn last year from its wholly owned businesses. Including its share of joint venture revenues, total sales hit $60bn in 2017.
Founder and chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, 65, owns 60% of the business, helping him top this year’s Sunday Times Rich List with £21bn in wealth. He has followed a strategy of buying loss-making assets and turning them around, starting in 1998 when he led a £40m buyout of BP’s chemicals division.
It was the £5.1bn acquisition of BP’s petrochemicals business Innovene in 2005, including the Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland, that made Ineos one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers, now operating across 181 sites. Its products are used in items ranging from plastics to medicines.
Last week, it announced a £2.4bn investment to build two new chemicals plants in northwest Europe — “a game-changer for the industry”, according to Ratcliffe. He has supported the campaign for Brexit and believes that using British raw materials and homemade energy will enable the country to trade its way to a more robust future. Ineos holds UK shale gas licences for more than 1.2m acres and has been pursuing legal action against the Scottish government due to its moratorium on fracking.
Ineos has also been expanding its operations beyond oil and gas, buying heritage motorcycle-wear brand Belstaff last year from German investor JAB Holding, as well as the Swiss football club Lausanne-Sport — both for undisclosed sums. It has also announced plans to create a 4×4 vehicle in the style of Land Rover’s retired Defender model. In February, Ineos announced that MBtech, a former subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz, had been awarded the engineering contract for the vehicle, and that it was looking for a base to begin manufacturing.
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