Business: English Defense

Multimillionaire James Derrick Slater, co-founder of the London investment banking firm Slater, Walker Securities Ltd., credits his hobby—chess—with making him Britain's king of mergers. Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of companies all over the world, Slater would then acquire some of them through quick, strategic stock purchases. Though he built Slater, Walker into a financial holding company that last year (the latest estimate) had a market value of some $360 million, he remained largely unknown to the public until he put up $125,000 in prize money to lure Bobby Fischer to Iceland to compete against Boris Spassky in 1972.

Lately, Slater has...

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