Top Track 100

Playing its part in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, petrochemicals giant Ineos built six hand sanitiser plants – each constructed within 10 days – this spring across the UK, France, Germany and America. Each is capable of producing one million bottles a month of medical-grade gel. These were distributed freely to some of the world’s hardest-hit hospitals.

Britain’s largest private company is Europe’s biggest producer of the two key ingredients used to make hand sanitiser – ethanol and isopropyl alcohol – which it redirected from industrial to medical applications to address the critical shortage during the pandemic. Having proven a lifeline to hospitals, its plants are now also producing small, personal bottles available for sale through supermarkets.

Ineos produces 60 million tons of chemicals a year across its 183 plants, refineries and gas fields spanning 26 countries, to be used in everything from paint to insulin. It provides the chlorine necessary to keep the UK’s household water supply safe to drink; phenol, used in aspirin and paracetamol; and chemicals used in antivirals, antibiotics and Covid-19 testing kits.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, 67, who is worth £12.15bn, according to The Sunday Times Rich List 2020, owns 60% of the company, with partners John Reece, 63, and Andy Currie, 64, each owning 20%. Ratcliffe set it up in 1998 with a £40m buyout of BP’s chemicals division, and stunned the industry in 2005 by acquiring BP’s petrochemicals business, Innovene, for £5.1bn, placing Ineos among the world’s largest chemical manufacturers virtually overnight.

Ineos has now topped the Top Track 100 for six consecutive years. It reports worldwide sales, including joint ventures, of $60bn (£48bn). However, league table companies are ranked on their sales minus joint ventures, but Ineos does not make this split publicly available. We have therefore added together Ineos’s four main entities with published accounts (Ineos Group Holdings, Ineos Enterprises, Ineos Industries and Inovyn) to arrive at our estimated £25bn in sales and £4.4bn in ebitda for 2018.

Ineos remains ambitious, and announced last Monday that it is buying BP’s aromatics and acetyls business, consisting of 15 sites globally as well as 10 joint ventures, in a $5bn deal. It also plans to expand into China. It sponsors Ineos Team UK for the America’s Cup, the yacht sailing competition, as well as the Mercedes- AMG Petronas Formula One team, having snapped up six-times Tour de France winner Team Sky — before collecting a seventh title as Team Ineos — and two football clubs. Ineos is also designing a 4×4 off-road vehicle to be made in Wales. What will be next?

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Company details
ActivityChemicals manufacturer
LocationSwitzerland / UK
Sales £m**25,000
Profit £m**4,400
Year endDec 18
Principal shareholdersSir Jim Ratcliffe (60%), John Reece (20%), Andy Currie (20%)

If applicable:

* Supplied by company † Annualised figure **Estimated