Hanson plc

Hanson plc
Industry Minerals
Founded 1964 as Hanson Trust Ltd
Headquarters London, England, UK
Key people
Daniel Cooper (CEO)
Products Building materials
Revenue £4,133m (2006)
£563m (2006)
£401m (2006)
Owner Heidelberg Cement
Number of employees
25,400 (2006)
Website Official website
A Hanson concrete plant in Zeebrugge, Belgium

Hanson plc (formerly Hanson Trust plc) is a British-based international building materials company, headquartered in Maidenhead. Traded on the London Stock Exchange and a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index for many years, the company was acquired by a division of German rival HeidelbergCement in August 2007.


Hanson was built up by James Hanson, later Lord Hanson, and Gordon White, later Baron White of Hull, who set up Hanson Trust in 1964.[1]

Their policy was to purchase underperforming assets and make them a source of profit. Hanson and White were willing to take a wide range of measures to do so, including mass redundancies, and therefore attracted opposition and accusations that they were "asset strippers",[2] but from 1979 the company was successful from the shareholders' point of view and respected during the early 1980s, with Hanson (who gave millions of pounds to the Conservatives) admired by Margaret Thatcher.[3]

One of the most notable takeovers, at least to the general public, was the acquisition in 1983 of the United Drapery Stores,[2] or UDS, group, which owned many of Britain's most well-known high street clothes shops and department stores, including John Collier, Richard Shops and the chain of Allders department 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.

In 1986 Hanson bought SCM, an American chemicals to typewriters business. This included the paper division that was formerly the Allied Paper Corporation. Hanson sold most of the SCM business units and the headquarters building in New York City for a significant profit.[4]

Its most significant single purchase, however, was probably its takeover of Imperial Tobacco Group in 1986.[2] 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."[2] Hanson sold off the food brand, Golden Wonder, to Dalgety plc in 1986.[5]

In 1988 Hanson went on to buy Consolidated Gold Fields for £3.5bn.[2]

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.[2] Hanson did secure the takeover of Beazer, a major housebuilder, that year.[6]

By the mid 1990s conglomerates were no longer popular with the investment community. Some of the manufacturing businesses were spun off as U.S. Industries in 1995.[7]

In 1996 Hanson ended its time as a diversified conglomerate by breaking itself up into four separate listed companies: Hanson plc, Imperial Tobacco, The Energy Group and Millennium Chemicals.[1]

Lord Hanson stepped down as chairman in December 1997.[2] After Lord Hanson's departure the Company focussed on building materials. In 1999 the Company acquired Pioneer International, an Australian building materials business.[8]

In May 2007, Heidelberg Cement announced 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.[9]

In December 2014, Heidelberg Cement agreed to sell its Hanson Building Products division to the private equity firm Lone Star for £900 million.[10]


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.


External links

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