|Founded||1964 as Hanson Trust Ltd|
|Headquarters||London, England, UK|
|Key people||Patrick O Shea (CEO)|
|Operating income||£563m (2006)|
|Net income||£401m (2006)|
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.
Their policy was to purchase underperforming assets and turn them around. Hanson and White were willing to take 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 delivered value for their shareholders and swept away the complacency that had bedevilled British and American management for far too long.
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 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.
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." He sold off the food brands, Golden Wonder, Courage Brewery Group and Arthur Cooper (Wine Merchants) off licenses to the Dalgety Group in 1987.
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. Hanson did secure the takeover of Beazer, a major housebuilder, that year.
Lord Hanson stepped down as chairman in December 1997. After Lord Hanson's departure the Company focussed on building materials. In 1999 the Company acquired Pioneer International, an Australian building materials business.
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.
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.