The Demise of Ferranti

Speakers: Prof. John Wilson
Date: Tuesday 1st December 2020
Time: 18:30

Via the internet using ZOOM


About the seminar

As one of the UK’s most successful and enduring defence and electronics companies, Ferranti by the 1980s had established a strong market position, reinforced by equally impressive international sales. Although the firm had been obliged to seek State help in the mid-1970s, under Derek Alun-Jones&rsquuo; leadership Ferranti was prospering in the 1980s, with investors and politicians placing considerable faith in the charismatic MD. Alun-Jones was also very ambitious, developing a “US Strategy” that provided considerable opportunities to secure contracts in the world’s largest defence market. This strategy also resulted in a high-profile merger, when in 1987 Ferranti linked up with the US defence firm ISC, owned and led by James Guerin. The presentation will examine this merger in some detail in an attempt to understand why and how it happened, as well as its calamitous consequences for employees and investors alike. Was Alun-Jones reckless? Was he duped by the arch conman? Why did the UK government allow the merger to go ahead? To what extent should investors and bankers have blocked the move? All fascinating questions that can be asked and answered as a direct result of detailed research.

The story begins in 1965 in 21 Portland Place ...

About the speaker

Professor John Wilson, FRHistS, FAcSS, is a Pro Vice-Chancellor at Northumbria University Newcastle, where he runs the Faculty of Business and Law. I have worked at several UK universities, as well as enjoyed brief spells at universities in Japan and Brazil. My main research interests have been British business, the UK electronics industry, technology transfer in a global business world, and corporate governance. I have published ten research monographs, edited another ten books and had published over seventy articles and chapters.

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