Over the past 25 years, frontiers have been reached and breached by INEOS. It has shown the world that it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. INEOS staff love a challenge.
Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Andy Currie and John Reece knew life would never be the same after they bought BP’s chemical assets in 2005.
For that monumental deal, which saw them raise $9 billion in 30 days, has perhaps been the catalyst for every challenge that INEOS has taken on. For INEOS doesn’t ask ‘why?’ It asks ‘why not?’ And time and time again, it proves that nothing is impossible.
The Innovene Deal
Overnight INEOS became the fourth largest chemical company in the world
The Innovene deal propelled INEOS into the super league of global petrochemical companies. It was an extraordinary move and took a lot of people by surprise.
As deals go, they don’t come much bigger – or better – than INEOS’ decision to buy BP’s global chemicals business in 2005. The big conglomerates, like BP, were fed up with petrochemicals and wanted out so they could focus on oil and gas where the money was. BP had planned to float Innovene on the New York Stock Market, but INEOS’ co-owners Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Andy Currie and John Reece convinced BP to sell it to them instead. In just 30 days, three banks agreed to loan $9 billion despite the fact that INEOS had not visited any of the sites.
“I do remember that we had to speak to the Bank of England before we sent the $9 billion across to BP because $9 billion is a big number,” said John. Brian Gilvary, now Chairman of INEOS Energy, worked for BP at the time of the deal.
“It was an extraordinary move,” he said. “It took a lot of people by surprise.” John McNally was also working for BP and has not looked back since INEOS acquired his old business.
“It really got lost in BP as to who actually made the decisions,” he said.
“With INEOS, there is no flapping about. You talk to the owners and get a decision back. I love that. I have always loved that.”
Looking back, Jim said it was a deal INEOS should never have ben able to secure, given the fact that Innovene was three times the size of INEOS.
“It would never happen in a million years any more because you just wouldn’t get three banks to stump up $3 billion a piece on their own balance sheet,” he said.
The deal, though, was transformational, propelling INEOS into the super league of global, petrochemical companies. “It was Jonah swallowing the whale,” said Tom Crotty, INEOS’ Communications Director. “It really was just unheard of in the industry.”
Oil & gas
It was the most significant investment in manufacturing in a decade.
INEOS found a new platform for doing business in 2015 – out in the North Sea. As the oil and gas companies began selling up amid rising costs and plummeting profits, INEOS sought to acquire the unwanted assets.
“Years ago, we picked up some really nice assets because petrochemicals were becoming unpopular and unfashionable,” said Sir Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS founder.
“The same is true today of oil and gas because it has got a CO2 footprint.
“But the planet cannot live without oil and gas, certainly for another 30 or 40 years. The world currently needs 100 million barrels of oil a day.”
Initially INEOS bought all of the UK North Sea gas fields owned by the DEA Group. A few days later Fairfield Holdings Ltd sold its 25% interest in the Clipper South platform to INEOS.
In 2017, INEOS bought all the North Sea oil and gas assets from DONG Energy the Danish Oil and Natural Gas company. In a separate deal with BP it also acquired the 235 mile Forties Pipeline System (FPS), which delivers 40% of the UKs oil and gas to the mainland.
They were landmark acquisitions and steered the company into new, exciting territory.
The deal with DONG Energy, which said it wanted to focus on renewables, also cemented INEOS’ position as one of the top 10 biggest oil and gas producers in the region at the time – and led to the creation of INEOS Energy.
“INEOS Energy incorporates all of the existing INEOS Oil & Gas assets and will also enable us to become a powerful force in the coming energy transition,” said Brian Gilvary, a retired BP executive who became chairman of INEOS Energy.
The dragon ships
Some felt it wasn’t viable to transport liquefied ethane across the Atlantic.
The arrival of ships carrying US ethane gas signalled the start of a renaissance for INEOS’ struggling gas crackers in Europe. Other companies had felt it simply wasn’t viable to transport huge quantities of liquefied ethane across the Atlantic. But INEOS saw an opportunity and dared to think the unthinkable.
Others are now doing it, but INEOS was first. “We were pioneers,” said David Thompson, the man tasked with overseeing the project.
“We were involved in the pipelines, the fractionation, the terminals, the infrastructure and the ships.
We had to do it all.” The UK’s Chemical Industries Association described the project as the most significant investment in manufacturing in a decade.
It took five years to come to fruition, spanned three continents, involved thousands of people, cost $2 billion and saved 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in Scotland.
“It was a truly global collaboration and one of the biggest engineering projects in the world,” said David.
Today, INEOS’ growing fleet of multi-gas ships – the likes of which the world had never seen before – regularly transport America’s competitively-priced ethane to Europe.
“I believe that INEOS is one of very few companies in the world that could have successfully pulled this off,” said INEOS founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
Industry insiders said it couldn't be done. Chemical companies don't build cars.
SOME of INEOS’ best ideas have surfaced in the pub. And so it was with INEOS’ 4x4 off-roader – conceived over a gin and tonic at The Grenadier pub close to the company’s London HQ. Industry insiders said it couldn’t be done. Chemical companies just don’t build cars from scratch. But INEOS does not worry about what others think and the proof – The Grenadier – is now on sale.
“My respect for what has been done at INEOS is just boundless,” said Quentin Wilson, an award-winning motor journalist who presented Top Gear for a decade.
“And I think everybody in the industry, if they’re being honest, would say it’s impressive.”
The story of the INEOS Grenadier may be unprecedented.
But it was an opportunity to raise the bar that INEOS founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe simply couldn’t resist.
Why shouldn’t INEOS build a spiritual successor to the Land Rover Defender, one of the most iconic 4x4s on the planet?
As he walked out of the pub that night, the wheels were already in motion.
2023 - INEOS to acquire 25% of Manchester United Football Club. The company already owns 100% OGC Nice, French Ligue One club, 100% FC Lausanne-Sport, the Swiss Super League club and has a partnership with Racing Club Abidjan of Ivory Coast Ligue One.
IT’S not just in business where INEOS excels. It has also been leading from the front – and challenging assumptions – in the world of sport. And not just one sport. Today, INEOS competes on the road, the pitch, the track and the water, helping its team of world-class athletes – be they in running, cycling, rugby, football, Formula One or sailing – achieve extraordinary things.
For INEOS, which announced a deal with Manchester United as INCH went to press, it all makes perfect sense. “It really does help if you’re talking to senior people in China or the Middle East because they have got a view of INEOS in some form,” said INEOS Chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
“Others may spend it on TV advertising, but we have taken a slightly different approach.”
Initially, INEOS started small by investing in community grassroots sports.
“It was one of the fun jobs I had after INEOS moved its headquarters to Switzerland,” said David Thompson, CEO of INEOS Olefins & Polymers Asia, who was Director of Lausanne Hockey Club 2016 - 2021 and President of Lausanne Sport 2017 - 2019.
“I was asked to build relationships with the local community.”
Since that investment in Lausanne Hockey Club in 2010, INEOS has been forging partnerships with some of the very best teams in the world.
But, as with everything INEOS does, it has done – and will continue to do – things differently.
All its teams – under the guidance of Sir Dave Brailsford – work on common performance issues by sharing knowledge and best practice.
That’s why the F1 team uses technology, which keeps the car on the ground, to make INEOS Team UK’s boat fly, and the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team advises the sailing team on nutrition.
Clark Laidlaw, the All Blacks Sevens’ head coach, recently described the performance partnership with INEOS as unique.
“It gives us the ability to learn from some of the world’s highest performing teams across a range of sports,” he said.