Caparo Group Ltd.
Caparo Group Ltd.
103 Baker Street
London, W1U 6LN
Telephone: (44 020) 7486 1417
Fax: (44 020) 7224 4109
Web site: http://www.caparo.co.uk
Sales: £800 million ($1.5 billion) (2006)
NAIC: 331210 Iron and Steel Pipes and Tubes Manufacturing from Purchased Steel; 331111 Iron and Steel Mills; 331221 Cold-Rolled Steel Shape Manufacturing
Caparo Group Ltd., one of the largest private industrial companies in the United Kingdom, is highly diversified, with subsidiaries in seven primary divisions: Steel Products, Vehicle Products, Engineering, Aerospace, Innovation, Investment, and Leisure. Founded as a small producer of steel tubes in 1968, Caparo's Steel division remains one of its largest. The division operates in the United Kingdom, where it is a market leading producer of structural steels, tubes, steel bars, industrial wire, and other cold-rolled and spring steel products.
Caparo is also highly active in the North American market, where its subsidiaries include the Bull Moose Tube Company, and, since the 2000s, in India. Caparo Vehicle Products operates a number of subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Europe, and India, and includes Caparo Vehicle Technologies, creator of the Caparo T1 sports car. Caparo Engineering Ltd. is the umbrella company for the company's various engineering subsidiaries, which are largely based in the West Midlands region of England, but has also extended operations into India. This division produces a wide variety of products and components for the construction, automotive, aerospace and other industries, in the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and India. The company's Aerospace division, including subsidiaries Armstrong Precision Components and Caparo Accles & Pollock, produce such components as inserts and tooling systems, as well as tube assemblies for the aerospace industry, as well as for scientific research and automotive and other industries. The Innovation, Investment, and Leisure divisions regroup various diversified interests acquired and established by Caparo. These include Established and Sons, a furniture design and manufacturing company; film production company AV Pictures; digital satellite television channel Film24; and Caparo Hotels, which owns the Osborne Hotel in Torquay and the Bignell Park Hotel in Oxford. Caparo Group employs more than 5,600 people, and generates revenues of more than £800 million ($1.5 billion) per year. The company remains controlled by the founding Paul family, now led by managing director Angad Paul.
ONE MAN OPERATION IN 1968
The Caparo Group was founded by Swraj Paul in Huntingdon, England, in 1968. Paul, a native of India, was part of the family behind the Apeejay Group, one of India's largest family-owned companies. It was cofounded by Paul's father in 1910 as a foundry that produced steel pots, tubs, farm implements, and the like. By the end of World War II, the family's fortunes had prospered enough to send Swraj Paul, born in 1931, to study mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Paul received his master's degree there, then returned to India, where he joined his brothers in expanding their father's company into a highly diversified company, with operations ranging from steel to tea to hotel operations and shipping.
Into the 1960s, oversight of the company was divided among the Paul brothers, with Swraj Paul taking charge of the company's shipping operations, known as Apeejay Overseas. In the mid-1960s, however, Paul's two-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Hoping to find a cure, Paul moved his family to London in order to seek medical treatment in 1966. Unfortunately, Paul's daughter died just two years later.
While tending to his daughter, Paul's business interests had remained more or less idle for some eighteen months. Shattered by the loss, however, Paul decided to throw himself back into work. Returning to the business world, Paul decided to launch a new company, borrowing £5,000 in order to begin trading steel between Europe and the United States. Quickly, Paul had earned enough in order to buy a one-third stake in Natural Gas Tubes (NGT), a small company manufacturing steel tubes in Huntingdon. Paul led that company into launching the production of spiral weld tubes, a move that enabled the company to post revenues of £14,000 that year. Within two years, Paul had bought out the other shareholders, paying £10,000 to gain control of the company.
Using NGT as a base, Paul rapidly began expanding his British business interests. For this, Paul turned to the stricken British steel product industry, which was hard hit by the economic recession in the early 1970s. While other investors fled from the sector, Paul launched a series of debt-funded acquisitions, buying a variety of operations ranging from scrap iron collection and processing to the sale of end products, such as forklifts. Other investments made by Paul during this time included the purchases of minority stakes in a variety of companies, including Berwick Timpo, a toy maker, the Assam Frontier Tea Company, and control of the Osborne Hotel in Torquay.
Paul's proved adept at arranging funding for his investments. The company managed to raise a £1.5 million loan from the British Department of Industry, as well as a £1 million grant from the European Coal and Steel Community in order to build a new £5 million steel products facility for NGT at Tredegar, in Ebbw Vale. Construction of that plant began in 1975. The following year, Paul acquired British citizenship—as a result, he was no longer allowed to own stock in his family's operations in India. Nonetheless, Paul continued to benefit from his close family ties. With the backing of the rapidly growing Paul family fortune, Paul found it easy to raise financing for his investment projects. Paul, who enjoyed close personal relationships with Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, and other political figures, was knighted by the queen of England in 1978. Later, in 1996, Paul was admitted into the House of Lords, becoming Lord Paul of Marylebone.
Caparo has never been a company that is highly centralised and there is never any intention of changing the individual character of each operating division by dictating a specific company mission statement or vision. However Caparo is built upon some core values and beliefs and it is these that guide our decisions and our attitudes. These ethics were developed from Lord Paul's Anniversary speech in 1994 which celebrated 25 years of Caparo. The Caparo Ethic: Caparo is something more than a successful enterprise … it is a story of people, of values and of human effort; working together we can build Caparo with resolution, fortitude and ability; the goodwill and confidence of Caparo employees, our suppliers, our customers and our managers are the bedrock of our business; always aspire for excellence; nothing else is good enough and never abandon hope; there is no such thing as bad business; only bad management; "What I like is people who are proud of what they do"—Lord Paul; Our aim is to always be in the top 10% of performers (measured against company competitors); find excitement in industry and your own job in it; cherish the enduring values of fidelity, truth and integrity.
FOCUSING ON STEEL FROM 1981
Paul's business grew more and more ambitious through the late 1970s and into the early 1980s. After launching a number of high-profile takeover offers—the company waged a takeover battle for Empire Plantations and Investments and Singlo Holdings, two closely linked companies involved in tea and food production. Eventually, Caparo managed to acquire control of Empire, as well as a 26 percent stake in Singlo. The latter company then transferred its tea operations to Empire. The Empire acquisition also gave Paul a major stake in a publicly listed company LK Industrial Investments.
In 1979, Paul created a new holding company, Caparo Group, as the umbrella for all of his investments. The following year, Caparo transferred all of its industrial operations to LK Industrial Investments, which then was renamed as Caparo Industries.
The creation of Caparo Industries provided greater focus for the direction of Paul's industrial operations. Toward this end, the company launched a £14.6 million takeover bid for Central Manufacturing & Technology (CMT), beating out rival bidder Hanson Trust, which had spent millions rebuilding CMT through the 1970s. The addition of CMT helped diversify Caparo's profit base, while also serving as a step to Caparo's increasing focus on the steel products and engineering sectors.
Caparo built up a list of acquisitions through the 1980s. The company paid £10 million for steel tubing and industrial engineering company the Barton Group in 1983. The following year, Caparo expanded its steel products offering with the purchase of Wrexham Wire. Not all of the company's acquisition efforts were successful—the company's attempted takeover of another struggling steel tube company, Brockhouse, failed in 1984.
By then, Caparo had formed a partnership with British Steel to create United Merchant Bar (UMB). The joint venture, held at 75 percent by Caparo, took over a shuttered British Steel mill in Scunthorpe. The site was then converted to manufacturing merchant bars, launching production in 1986. The creation of UMB served as an example of one of the techniques Paul used to build up the Caparo group. By targeting struggling and even failed steel products companies, Paul was able to minimize his purchase prices, then restructure and streamline companies, transforming them into profitable concerns.
Paul also went after healthy companies, however. In the mid-1980s, the company's interests increasingly turned toward the large North American steel products market, where it already operated a small steel tube business acquired through Barton in Ontario. Caparo found its entry into the United States in 1988, when it bought the Bull Moose Tube Company. Founded in 1962 near St. Louis, Missouri, Bull Moose had become part of the National Steel Corporation in the 1970s. Following its acquisition by Caparo, Bull Moose became Caparo's main North American operation, taking over the Barton tubes plant in Ontario as well. Back home, Caparo boosted its engineering component through the acquisition of Armstrong Precision Components, a West Midlands-based producer of wire thread and brass inserts and tooling systems, in 1989. Two years later, amid the economic slump of the early 1990s, Paul took Caparo Industries private, buying up the company's listed shares. By then, the company's sales neared £350 million.
CHANGE OF LEADERS IN 1996
Caparo continued to expand its U.S. operations into the early 1990s, buying Bock Industries in 1990. In 1994, the company rescued failed Sharon Steel, in Farrell, Pennsylvania. Sharon Steel, renamed as Caparo Steel, marked the company's first attempt to enter the steel market. Caparo invested heavily in revitalizing the operations, relaunching production by 1996. By 1997, however, the company had backed down from its initial objectives, shutting down the plant's electric furnace, and focusing instead on producing cold-rolled steel products. The company furthered expanded its U.S. presence that year with the purchase of Warrant Tube.
- India's Swraj Paul begins trading steel from London, then acquires stake in Natural Gas Tubes in Huntingdon.
- Control of Empire Plantations & Investments is gained, including the public company LK Industrial Investments; company transfers its industrial operations into LK, which is renamed Caparo Industries; Caparo Group is formed as holding company.
- Expansion into United States begins with acquisition of Bull Moose Tubes Company in Missouri.
- Full control of Caparo Industries is assumed and it is taken private.
- Engineering subsidiaries placed under new subsidiary, Caparo Engineering; company enters Indian market.
- Swraj Paul transfers control of company's operations to his three sons; youngest son Angad Paul becomes group CEO.
- Caparo Vehicle Technologies, consisting of automotive subsidiaries, introduces its first automobile, the Caparo T1.
Nearing retirement, Paul nonetheless actively sought new areas of operation for Caparo Group. The company entered the plastics market in 1994, creating a new subsidiary, Nupac, that year. The company also turned toward the liberalized Indian market for the first time that year, establishing a joint venture to create steel components for that country's automobile industry. In 1995, Caparo gathered its collection of West Midlands-based engineering companies into a single operation, Caparo Engineering.
Paul took his first step toward retirement in 1996, transferring the chairmanship of the company's two U.S. operations to his two older sons, Akash, who had been CEO at Caparo Steel, and Ambar, who had been CEO at Bull Moose Tube. Meanwhile, Paul had been grooming his youngest son, Angad, to take over as head of the Caparo Group itself; by 2002, Angad had assumed full control of the Caparo Group. By then, Swraj Paul had created one of Britain's leading privately held industrial empires, and had himself become one of the country's richest people.
INDIA AND AUTOMOBILES IN THE NEW CENTURY
Just five years after taking over as head of Caparo Group, Angad Paul had succeeded in doubling the company's total revenues, from about US$700 in 2002 to more than US$ 1.5 million by the beginning of 2007. Part of the company's growth came from a new series of acquisitions that boosted both its steel products and engineering businesses. In 2004, for example, the company bought five steel companies, including Britain's Tyco Tube, Tyco Strip, and scaffolding specialist Systems Scaffolding, and a Spanish company, LIPE, in Barcelona.
At the same time, Caparo stepped up its entry into the Indian market. For this, the company especially targeted the fast-growing automotive market, launching construction of a new facility in Rajasthan to produce fasteners and other components. The company also formed a joint venture with automaker Maruti, in Gurgaon. In the meantime, Caparo had also launched a major acquisition drive in the United Kingdom, buying a large number of smaller automotive components producers. By the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, the company owned more than 20 subsidiaries in the sector. These were then regrouped into a new company, Caparo Vehicle Technologies, which then emerged as a leader in the automotive components sector in the United Kingdom. This division then oversaw the creation of an engineering subsidiary, Caparo Vehicle Technologies. By 2006, Caparo had succeeded in developing its own full-scale automotive, launched as the Caparo T1 in 2006.
As it turned toward the second half of the decade, Caparo had regrouped its industrial operations into four core divisions, Aerospace, Engineering, Steel Products, and Vehicle Products, while the company's more diversified holdings—which included film production, furniture design, and hotel operations among others—were brought under the Innovation, Investment, and Leisure divisions. Caparo's acquisition drive remained highly active, and included the purchase of AP Breaking, based in Leamington Spa; and Bridge Aluminum and Zeus Aluminum Products, regrouped as Caparo Aluminum, in 2006. The following year, the company added Hayes Tubes and IAL's sheet metal operations in India, before turning to Poland, where it purchased the Bornet forgings group. From a one-man operation in 1968, Caparo had grown into a British industrial powerhouse for the new century.
M. L. Cohen
Armstrong Precision Components; Caparo AP Braking; Caparo Atlas España; Caparo Engineering India PVT Ltd.; Caparo Engineering Ltd.; Caparo Maruti Ltd. (India); Caparo Modular Systems; Caparo Precision Strip; Caparo Steel Products Ltd.; Caparo Vehicle Technologies; CMT Engineering.
Cargill Inc.; Chongqing Special Steel (Group) Company Ltd.; Aceros Chile S.A.; Mittal Steel Temirtau; Indian Iron and Steel Company Ltd.; Nippon Steel Corporation; Hitachi Metals Ltd.; Corus Nederland B.V.; ThyssenKrupp Steel AG; MAN AG; Mittal Steel Company N.V.; ACINOX S.A.
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Feldman, Amy, "Capitalism's Better Face," Forbes, June 19, 1995, p. 42.
Kimberley, William, "Caparo's Expansive Growth," Automotive Design & Production, May 2007, p. 12.
LaRue, Gloria T., "Paul Hands Caparo's Reins in US to Sons," American Metal Market, March 22, 1996, p. 2.
——, "Swraj Paul Gets His First Taste of Steelmaking," American Metal Market, February 10, 1995, p. 3.
Michaels, James W., "A Strange Coincidence?" Forbes, February 27, 1995, p. 12.
Rathore, Deepesh, and Tilak Swarup, "A British Formula for Fantastic Furniture," Business Week Online, September 21, 2006.
Sacco, John E., "Caparo Modernization Expected to Start Soon," American Metal Market, February 17, 1997, p. 3.
——, "Caparo Quits Steel Melting," American Metal Market, August 18, 1997, p. 1.
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Cohen, M.. "Caparo Group Ltd." International Directory of Company Histories. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (May 30, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2690600032.html
Cohen, M.. "Caparo Group Ltd." International Directory of Company Histories. 2008. Retrieved May 30, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2690600032.html