This Hampshire chemicals firm grabbed the world’s attention just over two years ago when its £5.1 billion acquisition of Innovene, BP’s petrochemicals business, quadrupled turnover overnight. In fact, it was the latest in a long series of increasingly audacious acquisitions made by founder and chief executive Jim Ratcliffe, a former private-equity player. These have turned the company into the world’s third-largest petrochemicals group in 10 years, making Ratcliffe worth about £3 billion in the process. Profits have grown 68% a year, from £153m in 2003 to £727m in 2006.
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