Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
James Hanson, Baron Hanson
James Edward Hanson, Baron Hanson (January 20 1922 – November 1 2004) was a British conservative industrialist who built his businesses through the process of leveraged buyouts. Amongst others, these included Hanson plc and Imperial Tobacco. He was created Baron Hanson, a life peerage, and sat in the House of Lords thereafter.
Lord Hanson and Gordon White formed a partnership in the 1960s, whereby they founded a greetings card business. The two men also began buying other companies, in such diverse industries as fertilisers and bricks, which all sat under the umbrella of a listed entity called Hanson Trust. By the 1980s, the Hanson Trust operated in both Europe and North America, purchasing undermanaged businesses in sectors such as batteries, locks and safes.
Lord Hanson's greatest deal was the 1986 purchase of Imperial Group , a British tobacco conglomerate with a diversified portfolio of underperfoming businesses. Lord Hanson's consideration for the transaction was funded entirely by selling many of Group's subsidiaries, leaving him with a business that made an operating-profit margin of nearly 50%. By the mid 1980s, he built a business that employed 90,000 people.
Lord Hanson developed a reputation as a corporate raider, which worked against him in a failed bid for ICI Group , a chemical group, in 1991. ICI hired Goldman Sachs to look into Lord Hanson's business dealings, and they found that Lord Hanson's partner, White, was running racehorses at shareholders' expense. Lord Hanson had purchased 2.8% of the firm, but backed down from the takeover.
Hanson was also an active "Eurosceptic", opposed as he was to Britain joining the Euro, and was a founding member of Business for Britain , an anti-EU organisation. He was also a member of the Bruges Group, which advocates a substantial renegotiation of Britain's relationship with the EU, or if that is not possible, total withdrawal from the EU.
He died, aged 82, after a long battle with cancer, in his home near Newbury.
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