Britain: Imperial Tiger

Homebound aboard the liner Aquitania in 1926, a group of British industrialists traveling together decided to merge four struggling chemical firms into a new company called Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. In a surprising departure from British formality, they scribbled out the new company's compact on a sheet of Cunard Line writing paper. Over the years since then I.C.I, has become Britain's Du Pont.

From a fortresslike grey stone headquarters beside the Thames near Parliament, the directors of Britain's largest nongovernment enterprise supervise an imperial giant with bases in 48 nations. Led by...

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