James Hanson, Baron Hanson : biography
James Edward, Baron Hanson (20 January 1922 – 1 November 2004) was an English Conservative industrialist who built his businesses through the process of leveraged buyouts through Hanson plc.
Hanson dated Jean Simmons and Joan Collins and was engaged to Audrey Hepburn for almost a year, until she called off the marriage.
In 1959 Hanson married Geraldine, née Kaelin, an American divorcée. He became stepfather to her daughter, and the couple had two sons of their own. She died of leukaemia in February 2004.
Hanson died, aged 82, after a long battle with cancer, in his home near Newbury, Berkshire.
Educated at near Halifax and Merlegh School (now closed), James Hanson served as a staff officer with 7th Battalion, the Duke of Wellington's Regiment before going into the family transport business. Independent, 3 November 2004
Lord Hanson and Gordon White (later Lord White of Hull) formed a partnership in the 1960s, whereby they founded a greetings card business. The Economist, 4 November 2004 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 Europe and North America, purchasing undermanaged businesses in sectors such as batteries, locks and safes. The Scotsman, 2 November 2004 He was knighted in 1976 and created Baron Hanson, of Edgerton in the County of West Yorkshire, a life peerage, in 1983.
Lord Hanson's greatest deal was the 1986 purchase of Imperial Group, a British tobacco conglomerate with a diversified portfolio of brand leaders in tobacco, brewing and food, and with a cash rich pension fund, that was his real target. Hanson's team turned up in Bristol the morning of the takeover to find the Pension Trustees had closed the Fund the evening before, denying him the asset. BBC News, 2 November 2004 Lord Hanson had expected to use the Pension Fund as consideration for the transaction: however it was funded entirely by selling many of Group's subsidiaries, leaving him with a business that made an operating-profit margin of nearly 50%.
Lord Hanson developed a track record as a corporate raider, which ultimately 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 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.
The mark of a Hanson company was that of a short term cash-generating machine, large scale redundancies, and research and development slashed to the bone - an "Asset Stripper".
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. Daily Telegraph, 2 November 2004
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.
Hanson’s billion-dollar empire earned him the nickname "Lord Moneybags"., Encyclopædia Britannica, retrieved 4 April 2010
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