- James Hanson, Baron Hanson
name = James Hanson
20 January 1922
death_date = death date and age|2004|11|1|1922|1|20|df=yes
death_place = Newbury,
Company directorJames Edward, Baron Hanson (born in Huddersfieldon January 20 1922– November 1 2004) was an English conservative industrialistwho built his businesses through the process of leveraged buyouts through Hanson plc.
Lord Hanson and Gordon White (later
Lord White of Hull) 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 (later renamed simply Hanson). By the 1980s, the Hanson Trust operated in both Europeand North America, purchasing undermanaged businesses in sectors such as batteries, locks and safes. In 1983, he was created Baron Hanson, of Edgerton in the County of West Yorkshire, a life peerage, and sat in the House of Lordsthereafter.
Lord Hanson's greatest deal was the 1986 purchase of
Imperial Group, a British tobaccoconglomerate 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 which was at the time the UK's third-largest company. ICI, led by its chairman Sir Denys Henderson hired
Goldman Sachsto 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 [cite news | date= 1991-05-18| url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE5DC1E3DF93BA25756C0A967958260&scp=1&sq=Often-Ravenous+Hanson+Takes+a+Taste+of+I.C.I.+ | title=Often-Ravenous Hanson Takes a Taste of I.C.I. | publisher= The New York Times| accessdate=2008-01-15] .
He was well known for his support of ex-Conservative MP Neil Hamilton, who became famous for his involvement in the "cash for questions" affair in the 1990s.
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 was at one point engaged to
Audrey Hepburn, who later called off the marriage.
He died, aged 82, after a long battle with cancer, in his home near Newbury.
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3973543.stm Obituary, BBC News]
Alex Brummerand Roger Cowe, "Hanson: A Biography" (Fourth Estate, 1994) (ISBN 1857021894)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.