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Solvents, sports, and SUVs - here’s what they have in common:

Ineos, the London-based chemicals giant which specializes in solvents, adhesives and pigments, is doubling-down on its extracurricular activities.

On Friday the company announced a deal to acquire a one-third stake in the Mercedes Formula 1 racing team.

Ineos Empire
Led by billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe (one of the 100 richest men in the world), Ineos is not a household name on the American side of the pond. With a reported $80 billion in annual revenue, Ineos serves industrial end-markets with chemicals such as chlorine and titanium dioxide.

But in recent years, the company’s public profile has ballooned:

  • Ineos has spent half a billion dollars acquiring French soccer club OGC Nice, Switzerland’s Lausanne Sports FC and U.K. cycling club “Team Sky” (which it renamed Team Ineos).
  • Ineos has funded Britain’s efforts in the prestigious America’s Cup sailing race.
  • It also (successfully) sponsored an effort by Kenyan Eliuid Kipchoge to run a sub-two-hour marathon.

While Ratcliffe says the sports pursuits are born from a genuine interest, others have criticized the company of “sportwashing,” or building a positive public image to dissociate from environmentally unfriendly business activities.

Mercedes Maven: Ineos' automotive ambitions don’t end at the race track. The company recently purchased a Mercedes plant in France and plans to launch its own SUV, called the Grenadier, in 2021.

Ola Kallenius, Daimler chairman, said Ineos could also become a future partner in building sustainable fuel technologies.

The Takeaway: Here is what Ineos' first car will look like.

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