Sir Alick Rankin loses battle against leukemia

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The Independent Online
SIR ALICK Rankin, the former chairman of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries and one of the pillars of the Scottish business community, has died aged 65 after losing a seven-month battle against leukemia.

Sir Alick, who masterminded the transformation that turned S&N from a regional player into Britain's biggest brewer, will be best remembered for the way he saw off a hostile takeover bid for the group from John Elliott, the Australian Fosters lager tycoon, in 1989, after one of the most bitterly fought takeover battles of the decade.

More recently, as chairman of General Accident, he played a pivotal role in the consolidation of the UK insurance industry when he steered the insurance giant into a merger with its rival Commercial Union last year.

As chairman of Christian Salvesen, the family-controlled haulage firm, he also piloted the company through a controversial demerger following an unsuccessful bid approach from Hays, the rival logistics group.

Brian Stewart, who succeeded Sir Alick as chief executive at S&N, said yesterday he was shocked and saddened to hear of Sir Alick's death on Tuesday night. "Sir Alick had been ill for several months with cancer and tackled his illness with typical courage and refusal to compromise."

Mr Stewart added: "Sir Alick was enormously committed to the company and his deep personal involvement and enthusiasm were an inspiration to all his colleagues."

Born in the Hebrides but educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, Sir Alick remained through and through a patriotic Scot. But unlike many of his contemporaries, he was constant in his belief that the success of the Scottish economy lay in embracing rather than resisting change.

A keen tennis player, cricketer and golfer, he was a member of both Muirfield, and St Andrew's golf clubs. He also listed ornithology as one of his hobbies.

He is survived by his second wife Suzetta and a son and three daughters.

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