Monday, 3 May 2010

Multisol Group and the Nomads of the Global Economy

Multisol (Irlam)
Multisol are head-quartered in Nantwich but have a small presence in Irlam.  Essentially they distribute chemical, lubricants and solvents to an international market.  The company also has offices in Spain, France and South Africa.  This profitable business generates around £113m sales and employs 120 people. 
Nomads of the Global Economy
It might not come as much as a surprise to regular readers of this blog, that the ownership of Multisol is  opaque, rendering the question of where its business is exactly located (See: Cadishead in Space, 24.8.08).  Resorting to binary geographies of global v local simply doesn't provide us with adequate theoretical tools to explain the complex geography of the firm in contemporary times.  Multisol is local, regional, national and global at the same time.
In 2008 the company was bought out by its own management team, even though the previous owners continue to hold a stake in Multisol.  The deal was rushed through to avoid the impact of changes to the Capital Gains Tax rules.  The move was facilitated by KBC Capital - a vision of KBC Bank NV (in other words they stumped up the necessary loan to enable the buyout to take place).  KBC Bank NV are actually based in Antwerp Belgium, which is in itself a subsidiary of the Belgium KBC Group.  Perhaps the bank is not too well known in the UK, but it is actually one of the largest in Europe.  
If Wikipedia is to be believed then the history of this bank can be traced back to 1889 with the foundation of the Catholic Volksbank van Leuven.  Perhaps not enough is understood how global companies with humble beginnings diffuse particular cultural practices across the world as they expand.  Whereas there is always something distinctly American about KFC or McDonalds, there appears to be something distinctly Flemish about KBC.  In 1935 KBC merged with two other banks to form the Belgian Kredietbank - which under the leadership of Fernand Collin, aimed to define a Flemish postwar economic recovery.
The Manchester Evening News recently reported there were plans afoot to float Multisol on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM).  This was news to me, an alternative self-regulating stock market, which runs in parallel to the Stock Market we love and loathe!  Companies floated on this alternative market are advised by a Nominated Adviser or Nomads, according to their jargon.  This figure of a nomadic financial advisor perhaps personifies the liquid and mobile qualities of the global market place, a world in which the notion of place has little fixed meaning, a figure left drifting on streams of financial data and investment flows, like a dull accountancy version of the Matrix.

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