David Barnes: enjoyed fishing, birdwatching, walking and modest shooting
David Barnes: enjoyed fishing, birdwatching, walking and modest shooting

Sir David Barnes, who has died on his 84th birthday, was a former ICI executive who played a leading role in the creation of the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

After 33 years with Imperial Chemical Industries – one of Britain’s post-war industrial titans – Barnes was chosen in 1993 to be chief executive of a spin-out company formed from its pharma and agrochemical interests. The new entity was called Zeneca after Barnes had commissioned consultants to find a memorable name that “didn’t mean anything stupid, funny or rude in other languages”.

The logic behind splitting from ICI’s chemical and paints businesses was a belated quest for greater shareholder value – a phrase, Barnes observed, that “I doubt I heard in my first 20 years in ICI” – provoked by a threatened takeover bid from the rapacious Hanson group.

三级成人视频Having once been seen as the Cinderella of the group, the separated pharma company went on to flourish as a producer of heart and asthma drugs, while the rump ICI business began to wither.

By 1998, Zeneca’s market value was £24 billion but ICI’s was only £4 billion. Cross-border consolidation was by then very much the trend in the pharma industry, not least to spread research costs, and after a cautious courtship, Barnes led Zeneca into a successful merger with the Swedish group Astra. He was deputy chairman of Astra Zeneca from 1999 until his retirement in 2001.

三级成人视频James David Francis Barnes was born on March 4 1936 in Nyasaland (now Malawi), the son of Eric Barnes, a provincial commissioner, and his wife Jean.

At the age of six David was sent to prep school on the Lancashire-Cumberland border, and from there to Shrewsbury School, where he was a near contemporary of the budding satirists Richard Ingrams, Willie Rushton and Christopher Booker, who went on to found Private Eye.

David Barnes 

An interest in biology led Barnes to study veterinary medicine at Liverpool University, but he found “a vocational conflict” in the frequency with which vets were called upon to euthanise their patients, and did not complete the course.

He joined ICI as a lab assistant, did National Service as a battery commander in Eagle Troop, 2nd Rgt RA in the Malayan Emergency, and rejoined the company on the overseas sales side of its pharmaceutical division in 1960.

Only recently created, the division first turned a £1 million profit in 1963 – drug products having been a small part of the overall ICI portfolio since the group’s foundation by a merger of leading British chemical companies in 1926.

三级成人视频Barnes rose to be European manager, overseas director from 1971 and deputy divisional chairman from 1977 to 1983, when he moved to become chairman of the Dulux paints division. He joined ICI’s main board in 1986.

三级成人视频In his later career he was a non-executive director of Prudential, Redland and Thorn-EMI, and deputy chairman of Syngenta, a Swiss-based bioscience venture into which Zeneca’s agrochemical interests were merged.

Among his charitable commitments he was a trustee of British Red Cross and deputy chairman of Business in the Community. He was appointed CBE in 1987, knighted in 1996 and awarded the Centenary Medal of the Society of the Chemical Industry in 2000.

In 2014, Barnes spoke vigorously against a potential takeover of AstraZeneca by the US group Pfizer on the grounds that Pfizer was motivated by tax gains and would not sustain AstraZeneca’s research base: “They will act like a praying mantis and suck the lifeblood out of their prey,” he stated. The bid fell away.

An outdoorsman at heart, David Barnes enjoyed family life, fishing, birdwatching, walking and modest shooting, “not where there are hundreds of birds going over”. He married, in 1963, Fiona Riddell, who survives him with their son and daughter.

Sir David Barnes, born March 4 1936, died March 4 2020