Magazine article Management Today

Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2006: Premier League

Magazine article Management Today

Britain's Top 100 Entrepreneurs 2006: Premier League

Article excerpt

Our Top 10 wealth-creators made their fortune in such diverse areas as chemicals, entertainment, spread betting, property and fund management.

1. JIM RATCLIFFE, INEOS GROUP

Jim Ratcliffe is the chemical industry's answer to acquisitive steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, a man who has taken it on himself to create a manufacturing empire by buying up the leftovers of those before him. From his base in the New Forest, the low-key Ratcliffe runs Ineos Group, which has become Britain's second-largest chemicals company and the world's largest producer of a range of industrial chemicals, including chlorine, perchloroehtylene, methylene chloride and hydrochloric acid.

The world suddenly took notice of what Ratcliffe and his team of highly experienced chemical industry executives were up to when Ineos bought BP's Innovene chemical division for pounds 5bn in October 2004. Ratcliffe had no difficulty persuading the City's finest - including Barclays Capital, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley - to underwrite the cash offer. A quiet family man, Ratcliffe now heads a group employing 15,500 people in 14 countries, with sales of pounds 18bn and profits running close to pounds 1bn.

Snagging Innovene was a stunning coup for Ratcliffe, beating as he did the entire private-equity industry to clinch the deal. But he knows that business well, having worked as a director of Advent International (Boston) from 1987 to 1992. Before that, he spent 15 years in accounting, marketing, and business management at Esso Petroleum and Courtaulds.

In 1992, he left Advent and, together with Dr John Hollowood, led the management buyout of BP's speciality chemicals division, which became Inspec. This floated on the stock market in 1994, and four years later was taken over in a pounds 611m deal by Laporte. Ratcliffe had left by then, but his remaining shares and options were worth pounds 28m at the time.

Armed with this windfall, in 1998 he led the pounds 90.5m acquisition of Ineos Group from Inspec. A series of bold takeovers followed, including chunks of chemical giants ICI, Dow and Degussa. Ineos has purchased most of its assets in auctions, where the main competition often comes from private-equity companies - which Ratcliffe believes has helped his cause.

'We've found greater receptiveness from sellers because we're not a private-equity capital company,' he says. 'Chemical companies are more comfortable dealing with us than with accountants from the private-equity sector, who are a different breed of people.'

Even before the recent transforming BP deal, Ineos made a healthy pounds 149m profit on sales of pounds 2.3bn. Ratcliffe has a 67% stake.

2. PATRICK MCKENNA, INGENIOUS MEDIA

Profits are roaring ahead at Ingenious Media, the entertainment consultancy founded by Patrick McKenna in 1998. Ingenious is split into five divisions, covering asset management, corporate finance, consulting, investment and ventures, and makes its money organising finance for film and TV projects.

An accountant by trade, McKenna started out at Deloitte & Touche, where he headed its media and entertainment group, before becoming right-hand man to West End showbiz impresario Lord Lloyd Webber and his Really Useful Group. In 2003-04, Ingenious' profits rose from pounds 18m to pounds 25m on sales of pounds 43m - a juicy margin of nearly 60%.

McKenna's coups have included co-brokering Robbie Williams' record deal with EMI, reputedly worth pounds 80m, and advising Victoria Beckham on her career.

He has also invested in pop svengali Simon Fuller's company, 19, which produces the Pop Idol TV shows, and has advised on the flotation of RDF Media and on a pounds 23m deal for Hat Trick, producer of Have I Got News For You.

McKenna's latest plan is to invest pounds 110m in the movies, defying the gloom that has pervaded the British film industry since the revision of supportive tax breaks. …

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