|Born||Gerald Maurice Ronson
27 May 1939
|Occupation||CEO of Heron International|
|Criminal penalty||1 year|
|Spouse(s)||Dame Gail Ronson|
Aged 15, Ronson left school and joined his father in the family furniture business, named Heron after his father Henry. The company expanded into property development, at first with small residential projects, later with commercial and office properties too. By 1967 the company was active in seven European countries and fifty-two British municipalities. In the mid-1960s Ronson brought the first self-service petrol retail outlets to the United Kingdom. Ronson once controlled almost a thousand of them, through a separate entity called Snax 24.
By the early 1980s Heron was one of the largest private companies in the United Kingdom, with assets of over £1.5 billion, but the company was over-extended and by the 1990s had almost collapsed with debts of £2.4 billion owed to 89 banks and 15,000 bondholders. The company survived with help from Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Craig McCaw, Oracle Corporation's founder, Larry Ellison, and others who gave loans to Heron.
In addition to Heron International and Snax 24, Ronson's more recent additional business ventures include Ronson Capital Partners, an investment firm he established to invest opportunistically in real estate assets in the UK; and Rontec Investments, a consortium comprising Snax 24, Investec and Grovepoint Capital, created to acquire the assets of Total Oil UK.
The Ronson family suffered from the 1990s commercial property crash: "The [Ronson] family lost $1 billion of its own money in the property crash of the early 1990s," Gerald Ronson says. "The important thing was to rebuild."
Guinness Four and Criminal Conviction
Ronson became known in the UK as one of the "Guinness Four" for his involvement in the Guinness share-trading fraud of the 1980s, along with Ernest Saunders and occasional business associates Jack Lyons and Anthony Parnes. He was convicted in August 1990 of one charge of conspiracy, two of false accounting, and one of theft, and was fined £5 million and given a one-year jail sentence, of which he served six months. In 2000 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the 1990 trial had been unfair because there had been an improper collusion between the DTI inspectors and the prosecuting authorities. A further appeal to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, that sought to have the Human Rights Act 1998 applied retrospectively, and claimed that the trial jury had been "nobbled", failed in 2001, A final appeal to the House of Lords (now the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom) failed in 2002.
Ronson has won a number of business and property awards, including, most recently, City AM’s Personality of the Year Award in September 2011. In 2009, His Majesty King Juan Carlos bestowed Gerald Ronson with the Encomienda de Numero of the Spanish Order of Civil Merit Decoration. In the same year, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from Northumbria University.
Ronson was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for charitable services. He is a long-time supporter and donor of both Jewish and non-Jewish causes.
When asked about his family and Jewish heritage in an interview with the Jewish Telegraph, Ronson responded: "I am a proud Jew [...] when I go back to when I was a young boy, nothing has changed and that's how I look at the Ronson family, involved in school building, whether it be Israel, the Jewish Leadership Council, Jewish Care or most of the major organisations I've been involved in". He wants his four daughters, six grandchildren and eventual great-grandchildren to "understand who they are, what they are, what their background is and what their responsibility is. I've given them the tools to be able to continue doing those things in their life which I believe will make them good people".
- Kay, William (1985). Tycoons: Where They Came from and How They Made It. Piatkus Books. p. 143. ISBN 0861883470.
- Ruddick, Graham (18 October 2009). "Heron International's chief executive Gerald Ronson cuts own pay from £12.9m to £1.7m". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "FROM RICHES, TO A JAIL CELL AND BACK TO RICHES – THE AMAZING LIFE OF TYCOON GERALD RONSON". Jewish Telegraph. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "Gerald Ronson Briefing Note" (PDF). Heron International. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
- "A Guy Named Gerald" 2007 Interview
- Thomas, Daniel. "Ronson Sets Up Investment Group". Financial Times. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Goodley, Simon (21 June 2011). "Total Deal heralds comeback for veteran forecourt retailer Gerald Ronson". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Sunday Times Rich List 2013: Arsenal FC's billionaire co-owner Alisher Usmanov topples Lakshmi Mittal to take top spot 20 April 2013
- Heron Chief Takes His Cue From Hollywood By SARA SEDDON KILBINGER, The Wall Street Journal,25 May 2005
- CMISKP website
- therefore the convictions remain. BBC news, 21 December 2001
- As a result the criminal convictions are valid and stand. House of Lords judgement in R v Lyons and others, given November 2002
- Ronson, Gerald. "CST Represents all Jews". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "NSPCC: Our Vice Presidents".
- "JCoSS People".
- "Personality of the Year". City AM. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Gerald Ronson awarded the Encomienda de Numero of the Spanish Order of Civil Merit Decoration". Building Design. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- "Honour for Leading UK Businessman". 22 July 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2011.
- "'My father and I said we'd give it 12 months – six years later I'm still here'". The Telegraph (UK). 14 March 2004. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- Kay, Richard (8 November 2010). "Heron empire hits new heights as businessman's fortunes change for the better". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- New Years Honours List 2012, BBC News, 31 December 2011.
- "Guinness Four fail in fight for acquittal", BBC News, 21 December 2001.
- "Life and high-flying times of four partners in crime", The Scotsman, 22 December 2001.
- Gerald Ronson profile in the UK business magazine Leisure Management
- "A Guy Named Gerald," interview with Gerald Ronson, Building.co.uk, 2007.