In 2011, when the first edition of INCH was published, research had shown that the INEOS brand was not as strong as it ought to be, given the sheer scale of the company, but that it clearly needed to be if it were to attract the very best students and potential investors and influence politicians and the media. The magazine has – hopefully – helped to address these issues, but recently INEOS’ profile has been raised in a way not even chairman Jim Ratcliffe could have predicted.
INEOS can no longer describe itself as the biggest company that you have never heard of.
Ever since the events at Grangemouth in Scotland, at the end of last year, views of the company along with those of its founder and chairman Jim Ratcliffe have been in demand.
Newspapers from around the world have been keen to include articles on the company and its Executives. Sylvia Pfeifer, a journalist on the Financial Times, said until a few months ago, INEOS had been little known outside industry circles.
“If the Grangemouth issue generated unwanted headlines, it has also lured INEOS out of the shadows,” she said.
But Journalists have not only been interested in INEOS’ success story. It has also been asked to comment on such things as the state of manufacturing in Britain, the impact of the shale gas boom in the US, the crippling cost of energy in Europe and the huge opportunities for growth in China.
Business editor Alistair Osborne wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “Jim Ratcliffe may not be a household name but it’s hard to find another British industrialist who, in 15 whirlwind years, has built a business from scratch into a global $43bn (£27.5bn) sales machine. Ratcliffe is hardly a man short of experience. So when he says that Britain ‘frankly has not been a very attractive place to manufacture’, or that the UK should stop ‘faffing about’ with shale gas and nuclear power, then his views command respect.”
During an interview with Brian Carney, one of the editors on The Wall Street Journal, Jim was asked what the US could do to make life even better for industry in America.
“Cut corporation tax,” he said. “It’s my only gripe. If you brought it down to about 30%, the US would be unbeatable.”
During an interview with Stanley Reed from the New York Times, Jim talked about why he was not prepared to see profitable sites in the US subsidising those losing money in Europe.
Bernd Freytag spoke to INEOS for an article he was writing for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. In it, he described the company as a pioneer for its decision to import low-cost shale-derived ethane gas to bring down the operating costs of INEOS’ European crackers.
Referring to Jim, Bernd said: “His picture of Europe for the petrochemical industry is rather grim, and he forecasts hard times. He doesn’t share the view of some experts that the US shale gas boom will soon be over. He’s alone in thinking that but he thinks that is nonsense.”
A similar story appeared in Le Monde. “Europe is not a good place for business right now and it’s getting worse,” Le Monde’s London correspondent Eric Albert wrote in his first-ever interview with the company. “I do not think people understand the challenges facing them.”
Interviews also appeared in newspapers in Norway and China, written by Cecily Liu, a reporter on The China Daily, reporting on the huge petrochemicals market and steady demand that are propelling China’s growth.
“I only knew about INEOS because of its joint venture with PetroChina but I knew very little about Jim,” she told INCH. “After Grangemouth he became more outspoken in the media. He clearly knows how to make the most of his talents and is more willing than most people to take risks.”
But one of the challenges that INEOS once faced, now no longer exists.
“INEOS had grown so rapidly that the perception people had of us hadn’t kept pace,” said Tom Crotty, Group Director for Corporate Affairs. “Even some customers were saying they thought we were a bit reticent, considering our size, in putting forward our views on the market. We also had some feedback from investors and the media that we needed to open up a bit.”
Today no one can level that criticism at INEOS anymore.