Patrick Meaney, corporate battle veteran, dies at 67

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The Independent Online
SIR PATRICK Meaney, chairman of Rank Organisation, died suddenly on Thursday aged 67.

He was deputy chairman of Midland Bank, recently taken over by Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, and a director of ICI, Tarmac and MEPC.

A veteran of bruising corporate battles, Sir Patrick came to the fore in 1983 during the defence of Thomas Tilling, a sprawling conglomerate, against a bid from BTR. It was then the largest takeover battle seen in the City and it was the first to use full-page 'knocking' advertisements.

From one of the loveliest buildings in London, Crewe House, now the Saudi embassy, Sir Patrick, Tilling's chief executive, fought hard against the number-crunchers from Pimlico.

The two bosses traded insults, with Sir Owen Green, of BTR, saying: 'There seems to be a womb-like way of life at Crewe House.'

Sir Patrick replied with scarcely disguised irony: 'They've done a fantastic job with a scruffy-looking lot of companies.' For all his spirit, Tilling succumbed.

He was not out of work for long. Earlier that year large investors, in an early demonstration of their power, had insisted on a change of management at Rank Organisation, following a collapse in profits and a reduced dividend.

Michael Gifford was brought in as chief executive and Sir Patrick, already a non-executive director, became chairman in succession to Russell Evans in November. It was a role he occupied for the next nine years.

Profits rose from just pounds 62m in the year before Sir Patrick took the helm to pounds 250m, before tax, last year. The company, which owns Odeon Cinemas, Pinewood Studios, Butlin's Holiday Worlds, Mecca bingo clubs and the Hard Rock Cafes, has spread on both sides of the Atlantic.

Latterly, Sir Patrick had held a low profile in the City, allowing Mr Gifford to do most of the talking at presentations. Insiders said they had a good working relationship.

The company said yesterday it would meet in due course meet to appoint a successor.

Sir Patrick was knighted in 1980 for services to exports.

(Photograph omitted)