UK: Succession - Who will inherit the mantle when the last of Britain's grey-headed gang are all gone? (7 of 7)

UK: Succession - Who will inherit the mantle when the last of Britain's grey-headed gang are all gone? (7 of 7) - Hanson: like father, like son.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Hanson: like father, like son.

The son of a wealthy Yorkshire entrepreneur, James Edward Hanson got off to an undistinguished start. But the nationalisation of his father's road haulage business for £3 million in 1948 left him with the capital and, finally, the freedom - his war service over - to start up on his own. With younger brother Bill he built up a base in Canada before expanding back into Yorkshire.

Hanson's gilt-edged upbringing introduced him to the world of horses and fashionable society. He developed a taste for good living and glamorous women, being engaged at one stage to actress Audrey Hepburn. It was on the man-about-town circuit that he met and became friends with fellow Yorkshireman Gordon White. When Bill Hanson died of cancer in 1954, White took his place.

In 1958 Jimmy Hanson married Geraldine Kaelin, an American divorcee, and renounced his Riviera lifestyle, settling down to make serious money. He was knighted in Harold Wilson's lavender list of 1976, but his political affinities were Thatcherite and in 1983 he received a peerage from Mrs Thatcher. When she resigned he took the unusual step of issuing a press release regretting her departure.

At 30, Robert Hanson is the elder of the two Hanson sons; younger brother Brook is adopted, and a rather more reserved type. Bob Hanson has apparently inherited his father's ability as well as his youthful propensity for fast cars and fashionable females. After leaving Oxford, where a drinking spree at the Assassins' dining club earned him the attention of the Oxfordshire constabulary and a mention in the gossip columns, Robert settled on the more sober course of a spell at Rothschilds before his current job as personal assistant to Hanson's two vice-chairmen.

Conglomerate with only a Tiny future.

From the time when Edward Heath described him as "the unacceptable face of capitalism", to his feuds with the Fayed brothers over the ownership of House of Fraser, Tiny Rowland has rarely been out of the news. But at 73 even he knows that he cannot carry on for ever, despite the near hero worship displayed by Lonrho's adoring shareholders at the annual general meetings.

Extremely protective about his family, Rowland has no obvious heir waiting in the wings. This may explain the confusing signals which emerged at the end of last year over talk of a Lonrho merger with Gencor, the South African mining house. Although Gencor appeared to dampen speculation, Rowland seemed to welcome the idea. Such a move would of course ease all of Rowland's succession fears at a stroke.

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