Ian Roper Taylor (born 7 February 1956) is chairman and former Global CEO of The Vitol Group, the world's largest independent energy trader. He is also the majority shareholder in Harris Tweed Hebrides, the primary producer of the historic Harris Tweed cloth, which he helped to rescue in 2005.
A significant philanthropist, mainly through his Taylor Family Foundation, he is a passionate supporter of the performing arts as a force for social good. He is chairman of the board of Trustees of the Royal Opera House, whose Schools Matinées programme, providing heavily subsidised tickets for children from poor backgrounds, he was responsible for creating and continues to fund. He is also an active supporter of the Rambert Dance Company, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Royal Academy and the Vitruvian Group, of which he is a founder member.
A long-term supporter of the Conservative Party, Taylor made significant donations to the Better Together campaign (for the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence) and to the Remain campaign (for the 2016 referendum on the UK's membership of the EU). In 2016 he was reported to have asked for his name to be withdrawn from consideration for a potential knighthood in David Cameron's resignation honours list; this was apparently in response to hostile media coverage.
A regular participant in the Speakers for Schools initiative, Taylor is also a founding shareholder of the British Americas Cup bid.
The Sunday Times Rich List 2017 estimated Taylor's wealth at £180m, making him the UK's 623rd richest person.
1 Early life and education
3 Harris Tweed
4.1 Vitol Foundation
4.2 Taylor Family Foundation
4.3 Other voluntary activities
5 Personal life
7 External links
Early life and education
The son of an ICI executive from Ayrshire, Taylor was born in Croydon, Surrey, and grew up in Manchester. For a brief period in his teens the family home was in Tehran, where Taylor's father worked for a while before the Iranian revolution of 1978–1979.
Taylor was educated at King's School, Macclesfield (1968–1974) and then at Oxford University (1975–1978), where he read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Merton College.
Taylor joined Shell shortly after graduating in 1978. Within a year he had been sent to Venezuela as a trading representative. He also performed roles in operations and trading. In 1982 he became a crude and products trader, based in Singapore, before moving in 1985 to Vitol Group, a Dutch-owned energy and commodities company, with headquarters in Switzerland, which employs more than 5,440 people in 40 offices worldwide. Taylor spent seven years as a London-based manager for Vitol before moving back to Singapore as managing director of Vitol Asia in March 1992. He set up a global crude oil trading team and was involved in the formation of many international operations for the company.
In June 1995 he was appointed CEO of Vitol Group, and held the position until March 2018, when he was replaced by Russell Hardy. The company has undergone considerable expansion and now trades more than 7 million barrels of crude oil and related products every day and ships more than 350 million tonnes of crude oil and products each year. With 2016 revenues of $152 billion, Vitol is the world's biggest independent oil trading company. In 2015 it was the world's ninth biggest corporation by revenue
In addition to its trading activities, Vitol has stakes in five refineries worldwide, with a total refining capacity of 390,000 barrels a day, and has 15.9 million cubic metres of owned storage capacity. In 2013 Vitol purchased the Immingham Combined Heat and Power plant in Lincolnshire for an undisclosed price. The giant gas-power plant, subsequently valued at £733m, is the company's only major UK operation.
Taylor is thought to be one of 350 partners in Vitol, each of whom has some equity in the private business.
In addition to his work with Vitol, Ian Taylor is a non-executive director at Fortune Oil PLC, a position he has held since 1996. He served as Executive Director of the same company from 1993 to 1996. He owns two small restaurants in Wimbledon and is a director of Wimbledon Cafés Ltd and Wimbledon Restaurants Ltd. He is also a director of Weybourne Ltd, Weybourne Investment Holdings, Rosehill GP Ltd, Taypey Ltd and Allegro Enterprises Ltd.
He is a member of the Advisory Boards of FPE Capital LLP and Stonehage Fleming Private Equity Ltd.
In 2005, at the request of former Labour minister Brian Wilson, Taylor rescued the historic clothing brand Harris Tweed from the brink of collapse, purchasing the derelict Shawbost mill on the Isle of Lewis for a reported £500,000, rebranding it as Harris Tweed Hebrides and investing a further £2m into turning the business round. Today, the company has a staff of 80, as well as providing employment for 130 self-employed home-based weavers, and has a global customer-base that includes such brands as Chanel and J.Crew.
Taylor takes no salary or bonus from Harris Tweed Hebrides and has said that he rescued it for the sake of his "grandfather and father", who were both Scottish.
In 2013 Harris Tweed Hebrides was named UKFT Textile Company of the Year, and in 2015 it was Scottish Exporter of the Year for 2015. It has also won awards for outstanding contribution to style and fashion.
Vitol began making charitable grants in 2002, and in 2006 the Vitol Foundation was established, with Taylor as its first chairman. Its declared purpose is to enable children living in deprivation to escape the cycle of poverty and reach their potential in life. Vitol employees are encouraged to identify projects that could benefit from the Foundation's support. Since 2006 the Vitol Foundation has funded over 2,000 projects, with a combined value of about £160m, in 124 countries around the world. In 2011 it received Save the Children's inaugural Outstanding Emergency Partner award.
Taylor Family Foundation
In February 2007, Ian and Tina Taylor established the Taylor Family Foundation to increase the effectiveness of their charitable giving. The Foundation's main objectives are to advance education and promote the arts, especially by providing children and adults with access to training, tutoring and performances in the disciplines of drama and dance. It also tries to provide sports and recreational facilities for underprivileged young people.
In the first eight years of its existence the Foundation spent more than £13.8 million on grants and charitable activities. In the financial year ending March 2016, Ian Taylor made donations totalling £2m to the Foundation, which in the same period gave grants totalling £1,947,000 to 35 charitable causes, including the Royal Opera House Convent Garden Foundation, Merton College Oxford, the Tate Foundation, Maggies, Random Dance Company, the Southbank Centre, the Lowry Centre Trust, the Mosaic Jewish Primary School, Médecins sans Frontières, MCFC-City in the Community, Polka Children's Theatre, Stirling University, Royal Academy of Arts School Scholarship, West London Zone, Children's Hospice Association Scotland, Linden Lodge Charitable Trust, The Wimbledon Civic Theatre Trust, Depaul UK, Prisoners' Education Trust, Rambert (Merton Schools Rambert Imprints), Noah's Ark Children's Hospice, Great Ormond Street Hospital (Play Services), Beanstalk, St Giles Trust, The Royal Ballet School, The Mix (formerly Get Connected), Wimbledon Arts, Home Start Merton, ReadWell, Childhood Trust, Wimbledon Music Festival, REACT, Future Talent, St John's Baptist Church, Mitcham Town Community Trust, King's College School, Dumfries House, Save the Children, NSPCC, Mayor's Fund for London, Honey Pot Children's Charity, Royal London Society and English Heritage (Waterloo 200).
Other voluntary activities
In addition to the work of his foundations, Taylor has provided his services on a voluntary basis to a number of artistic institutions. In September 2016 he was appointed chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Opera House. He had been chair of the ROH's Development Committee since 2013. He and his wife (who is also an honorary director) are particularly associated with the ROH's programme of Schools Matinées, which allows young people to attend performances at heavily subsidised prices, funded by the Taylor Family Foundation.
Taylor was on the Development Board of the Victoria & Albert Museum and served on the board of Rambert Dance Company (formerly Ballet Rambert) from 2009 to 2014. He was also an honorary member of the Tate Foundation, supporting the creation of the Taylor Digital Studio at Tate Britain; and was a founder member of the Vitruvian Group, an international philanthropy circle that supports the work of the choreographer Wayne McGregor. In 2015, Taylor gave a keynote speech at Dance UK's conference, "The Future: New Ideas, New Inspirations", discussing the importance of supporting dance education to ensure the sector's future talent.
Other causes supported by the Taylors have include UNICEF and the cancer charity Momentum. "I'm a great believer in creating wealth so you can distribute it," Taylor told the Daily Telegraph in 2015.
Taylor met his future wife, Cristina Alicia Hare, in 1979, in Venezuela, where he was posted by his first employer, Shell. She is known as Tina. The couple married in 1982, in Tonbridge, Kent; they have four children.
Taylor has described himself as feeling "proudly Scottish" although his accent suggests north-western England. He supports Manchester City. A keen patron of the arts and an active philanthropist, he lives mainly in London but also has a home in Scotland.
He usually eats porridge for breakfast, travels to work by Southern Rail and enjoys reading political biographies.
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