Britain's Most Admired Companies: ... And the least admired

Marks may sparkle but at the other end of our BMAC survey, nestling at 217, is Sports Direct. Reclusive boss Mike Ashley claims he has balls of steel to cope with City criticism but is taking refuge in the leather balls at Newcastle United. James Taylor reports.

Britain's Most Admired is a celebration of all that is great about UK plc: the world-class companies competing and winning on a global scale. But what kind of Brits would we be if we didn't pause for a moment to salute the unlucky losers - the companies plumbing new depths of general disdain?

Rock bottom of the Most Admired pile was Hikma Pharmaceuticals, a UK-listed Jordanian generic drug-maker, which came last in an impressive six of the nine criteria. Its ratings peaked in the Capacity to Innovate section, where it soared to 193rd place.

We're not sure what Hikma has done to deserve such opprobrium. In its most recent results in September, it reported a 17% rise in pre-tax profits, while turnover was up 45% to £225m. And having bought Egyptian company Alkan Pharma, it expects to double sales every four years. But, clearly, it lost a few friends along the way.

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