- Hanson plc
company_name = Hanson plc
foundation = 1964 as Hanson Trust Ltd
London, England, UK
key_people = Alan Murray (CEO)
industry = Minerals
products = Building materials
revenue = £4,133m (2006)
operating_income = £563m (2006)
net_income = £401m (2006)
num_employees = 25,400 (2006)
homepage = http://www.hanson.biz/
Hanson plc (formerly Hanson Trust plc) is a British based international building materials company, headquartered in
London. Traded on the London Stock Exchangeand a constituent of the FTSE 100 Indexfor many years, the company was acquired by a division of German rival Heidelberg Cementin August 2007. Before a series of demergers in the 1990s Hanson was a conglomerate with a diverse range of subsidiaries, and one of the very largest British companies.
Hanson was built up by James Hanson, later Lord Hanson, and Gordon White, later
Lord White of Hull, who set up Hanson Trust in 1964.
Their policy was to purchase underperforming assets and turn them around. Hanson and White were willing to make any measures necessary to reform a business, including mass redundancies, and therefore attracted some opposition and accusations that they were "asset strippers", but they also had a successful record as long term owners, who developed highly successful businesses. In the 1970s and 1980s Hanson Trust purchased assets ranging from chemical factories in the United States to electricity suppliers in the United Kingdom to gold mines in
Australia. It produced cigarettes and batteries, timber and toys, golf clubs and Jacuzzis, cod liver oil capsules and cranes and airport duty free stores.
One of the most notable takeovers, at least to the general public, was the acquisition in 1983 of the
United Drapery Stores, or UDS, group, which owned many of Britain's most well-known high street clothes shops and department stores, including John Collier, Richard Shopsand the chain of Alldersdepartment stores. To fund this purchase Hanson broke up UDS and sold John Collier to a management buy-out team, and Richard Shops to Habitat, keeping only the core department store business.
Its most significant single purchase, however, was probably its takeover of Imperial Tobacco Group in 1986. Hanson paid £2.5 billion for the group then undertook a major reorganisation; divestitures netted £2.3 billion, leaving Hanson with the hugely profitable tobacco business for "next to nothing."
An attempt in 1991 to purchase
Imperial Chemical Industries, once seen by many in Britain as the nation's leading company but then in decline, was highly controversial and ended in failure.
In May 2007,
Heidelberg Cementannounced its intent to purchase Hanson PLC for £11 per share, a deal worth approximately £8 billion. This deal made the combined company the second largest cement and building materials company in the world. The transaction was completed through Heidelberg subsidiary Lehigh UK on 22 August 2007.
By the mid 1990s conglomerates were no longer popular with the investment community. Some of the manufacturing businesses were spun off as
U.S. Industriesin 1995.
In 1996 Hanson ended its time as a diversified conglomerate by breaking itself up into four separate listed companies:
The Energy Group
The core building materials companies were kept with Hanson plc, the three other businesses were sold off. Lord Hanson stepped down as chairman in December 1997. After Lord Hanson's departure the remaining non building materials businesses were sold off, and additional building materials businesses were purchased. These included Pioneer International of Australia and several U.S. companies.
Hanson's two largest markets are the United Kingdom and the
United States, and it is also active in many other countries. It is the world's leading producer of aggregates (particles of rock, gravel and sand), and a major producer of bricks and concrete pipes. In the year ended 31 December 2004Hanson made a profit after tax of £193.6 million on turnover of £3.464 billion.
* [http://www.hansonplc.com/index.asp Official site]
* [http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=HNS.L Yahoo! profile]
* [http://www.hoovers.com/free/co/factsheet.xhtml?&ID=41784&abforward=true Hoover's profile]
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