The Life of Nigel Rudd and his Corporate Maneuvers

On December 31 in the year 1946, one of the best known industrialists in contemporary Britain was born in Derby, England. His name is Sir Nigel Rudd, the founder of the defunct William Holdings and former chairman of UK’s Heathrow Airport.

Sir Nigel Rudd
Sir Nigel Rudd (Credit: )

Sir Nigel Rudd was the son of an inspector for weights and measures in the British civil service. He attended Bemrose Grammar School and at the age of 20, he became a chartered accountant. He received honorary degrees from Derby University and Loughborough University where he was appointed fifth Chancellor in 2010.

Sir Nigel started working as a troubleshooter for holding company London & Northern. After purchasing Williams Engineering Company in 1982, he established Williams Holdings with the help of his partner Brian McGowan. Subsequently, he built a conglomerate by acquiring underperforming companies starting with the purchase of metal company J & HB Jackson in 1985. He went on to buy paint business (Crown Berger), a publishing house (Kidde), a lock manufacturer (Yale and Valor), top glassmaker (Pilkington), car dealer (Pendragon) and fire and security (Chubb Security). In 2000, Williams Holdings ceased operation when it sold its businesses. By then, Sir Nigel acquired a solid reputation as a corporate raider and leveraged buyout (LBO) specialist.

Sir Nigel Rudd subsequently engineered the merger of Alliance Unichem and Boots despite strong opposition and negative feedback from analysts. He reportedly acted as kingmaker and took part in a deal involving Barclays Bank and ABN Amro. He was elected either as director or chairman/vice chairman of several other companies including Invensys Limited, Destiny Pharma plc, Sappi Limited, LHR Airports Limited, BBA Aviation plc, and British Airways Plc.

Sir Nigel Rudd had three children with his wife Lesley whom he married in 1969.


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