BTR plc

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BTR PLC Limited
TypePublic limited company
PredecessorThe Leyland & Birmingham Rubber Edit this on Wikidata
FateMerged with Siebe
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
Key people
Revenue£10 billion (1995)[1]
Number of employees
~130,000 (1995)[2][3]

BTR plc was a British multinational industrial conglomerate company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It was founded in 1924, grew strongly by acquisitions under Sir Owen Green’s and later Alan Jackson’s leadership, which merged with Siebe plc in 1999 to form BTR Siebe plc, later renamed Invensys. BTR was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index during the 1980s and 1990s. Invensys was bought by and absorbed into Schneider Electric in 2014.


Early years[edit]

BTR started in 1924, when the B.F.Goodrich Company of the USA formed a UK subsidiary British Goodrich Rubber Co. Ltd. In 1934 Goodrich sold most of its shares in the company, which changed its name to the British Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd.[4]

In 1956 the company changed its name to BTR Limited, when it ceased production of tyres.[5]

Owen Green and subsequent years; acquisitive industrial group[edit]

The company was dominated by Sir Owen Green from 1967 to 1993 first as managing director (until 1986) and then as chairman.[6] His focus was on operating margins and cash flow, arguably at the cost of long-term investment.[7]

By 1982 BTR had acquired a large number of companies in the United Kingdom, the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Germany.[5] BTR acquired the Thomas Tilling group in 1983, and Dunlop Holdings plc in 1985.[8] The Dunlop road tyre business was immediately sold to Sumitomo Rubber Industries.[9] In late 1985, BTR launched a hostile take-over bid for Pilkington, a leading manufacturer of high quality glass, with operations worldwide. After a successful defensive campaign by Pilkington, BTR was forced to withdraw its offer in early 1986.[10]

BTR purchased Schlegel Corporation in late 1988 through a subsidiary. Schlegel had manufacturing facilities for door and window seals and related products in twelve countries.[11] Schlegel made automobile and building products in Europe through its subsidiaries Schlegel UK and Schlegel GmbH.[12] After the purchase BTR decided to transfer the Schlegel UK and Schlegel GmbH subsidiaries from Schlegel Corporation to itself.[11] There was a dispute over how the transfer should be valued for tax purposes, with BTR valuing the Schlegel UK and Schlegel GmbH subsidiaries at $21,846,000 and $9,400,000, while the Internal Revenue Service valued them at $49,069,000 and $13,246,000.[12]

During the early to mid 1990s under Alan Jackson’s stewardship, as CEO, BTR controlled over 1,500 subsidiary companies in over 60 different countries. This was mainly due to the takeover bids led by Green and later Jackson.[13]

In 1992, Hawker Siddeley Group plc was acquired by BTR plc for £1.5bn. This was the first large hostile takeover of a company that Jackson had completed in his role as managing director. In that same year, he also purchased two smaller companies; Rockware, the UK’s leading class manufacturer and Pirreli, a sealing company. These were bought for A$400 and A$200 million respectively.[14][15]

BTR also had an industrial products operation in Australia known as Nylex which it secured complete control of in 1995 for $4.48 billion by Jackson who was the chief executive officer at the time.[16] This company during the late 1980s provided 41% of BTR’s profits and kickstarted BTR’s growth in the emerging markets of Southeast Asia. This was also due to the Malaysian wing of Nylex, Berhard.[17][18][19]

One of the major ways BTR grew in size and in profits, was its continual takeover of other companies throughout the world. This led it to be a multinational conglomerate. Moreover, the company also gained further profits by investing large amounts of money in investing in capital and operations, as well as the methods used by Green and later Jackson, of ruthless cost-cutting. This included removing staff and also unprofitable businesses. It was these methods that led to the success of the company.[20] Nevertheless, it also was perhaps its greatest weakness, which came ahead in the late 1990s following the retirement of both Green and Jackson, when debt rose to high levels. Restructuring failed to revive the company, in which, became increasingly inefficient and unprofitable in various manufacturing sections.[21]

Later years[edit]

Between 1996 and 1998, BTR sold the remaining Dunlop companies.[22] In November 1997 UniPoly S.A, bought 32 companies from BTR, including the Schlegel Sealing and Shielding Group. The acquisition cost about $867 million.[23] The deal was a management buy-out in which UniPoly Group was formed to take over most of the rubber products business of BTR plc.[24] In these years BTR was organised in the following businesses areas: Engineering, Packaging, Materials, Building products, Polymers.[25]

In 1999 BTR merged with Siebe to form BTR Siebe plc, which was renamed Invensys plc. The chief executive of BTR, Ian Strachan, also became the chief executive of Invensys following the merge with Siebe until 2000.[26][27]

Company heads[edit]

The company heads of BTR plc are only listed following the name change of BTR in 1956 until the takeover of BTR in 1999.

Chairmen of BTR Limited
Order Chairman Period Reference
1 Unknown person 1956-1969
2 Sir David Nicolson 1969-1984 [28]
3 Sir Owen Green 1984-1993 [29]
4 Sir Norman Ireland 1993-1995 [30]
5 Elwyn Eilledge 1995-1999 [31]
Managing directors / CEOs of BTR Limited
Order MDs / CEOs Period Reference
1 Unknown person 1956-1967
2 Sir Owen Green 1967-1984 [32]
3 Sir Norman Ireland 1984-1987 [33]
4 John Cahill 1987-1990 [34]
5 Alan Jackson 1991-1996 [35]
6 Ian Strachan 1996-2000 [36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Atkin, Dan. “The wizard of Oz takes his final bow”. The Daily Telegraph. October 28, 1995.
  2. ^ Atkin, Dan. “The wizard of Oz takes his final bow”. The Daily Telegraph. October 28, 1995.
  3. ^ “BTR Plc |,” 2013.
  4. ^ Competition Commission Report c. 1955 para 68
  5. ^ a b Competition Commission report 1982
  6. ^ Sheikh, Saleem; Rees, William (5 March 1995). Corporate Governance & Corporate Control. Cavendish. ISBN 9781874241485 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Reier, Sharon. "The Man From Melbourne." Financial World - Europe' CEO of the Year. July 20, 1993.
  8. ^ "Dunlop and BTR Reach an Accord". The New York Times. 9 March 1985 – via
  9. ^ "Dunlop Stake For Sumitomo". The New York Times. 21 November 1986 – via
  10. ^ BTR withdraws offer for Pilkington
  11. ^ a b Pratt, Shannon P.; Grabowski, Roger J. (26 October 2010). Cost of Capital in Litigation: Applications and Examples. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-0-470-94491-2. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  12. ^ a b Fishman, Jay E. (28 March 2013). Standards of Value: Theory and Applications. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-1-118-22540-0. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  13. ^ Reier, Sharon. "The Man From Melbourne." Financial World - Europe' CEO of the Year. July 20, 1993.
  14. ^ "Homepage". Wabtec Corporation. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009.
  15. ^ Reier, Sharon. "The Man From Melbourne." Financial World - Europe' CEO of the Year. July 20, 1993.
  16. ^ "Jackson aims for BTR Nylex on the cheap". Australian Financial Review. 7 August 1995. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  17. ^ "International Briefs; BTR to Buy Out Unit For $3.2 Billion". The New York Times. Associated Press. 22 July 1995 – via
  18. ^ Underhill, Marion (6 December 1990). "BUSINESS PEOPLE; Australian to Become Head of BTR of Britain". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 31 January 2023.
  19. ^ Reier, Sharon. "The Man From Melbourne." Financial World - Europe' CEO of the Year. July 20, 1993.
  20. ^ Nicholas, Katrina. "Nylex: from household name to oblivion." Financial Review. Feb 21, 2009.
  21. ^ Atkin, Dan. “The wizard of Oz takes his final bow”. The Daily Telegraph. October 28, 1995.
  22. ^ BTR sells South African tyre subsidiary[dead link]
  23. ^ "Unipoly S.A. Acquires Four BTR Product Divisions in 515 Million British Pound Management Buyout". 10 November 1997. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  24. ^ "UniPoly executives leave company". Rubber News. 22 June 2001. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  25. ^ Jones, Dow (12 September 1997). "INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS; BTR to Sell Several Divisions". The New York Times – via
  26. ^ Investors back BTR Siebe merger
  27. ^ StreetJournal, Sara CalianStaff Reporter of The Wall (24 November 1998). "Siebe, BTR Agree to Merge in Deal Worth $5.67 Billion" – via
  28. ^ The Independent. “OBITUARY : Sir David Nicolson,” July 28, 1996.
  29. ^ "Sir Owen Green", obituary in The Daily Telegraph, 29 June 2017, p. 31.
  30. ^ The Independent. “BTR Names Auditor Chairman,” September 27, 1995.
  31. ^ “Honours for the Profession.” Accountancy Daily, 2023.
  32. ^ "Sir Owen Green", obituary in The Daily Telegraph, 29 June 2017, p. 31.
  33. ^ The Independent. “BTR Names Auditor Chairman,” September 27, 1995.
  34. ^ The New York Times. “BUSINESS PEOPLE; Australian to Become Head of BTR of Britain (Published 1990),” 2023.
  35. ^ “Company Announcements Text,” January 4, 2011.>
  36. ^ Staff, HeraldScotland. “Strachan Appointed BTR Chief.” HeraldScotland. HeraldScotland, January 20, 1995.

External links[edit]