The many tentacles of The Henley Group

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Seacoast Sunday, September 4, 1988

Bob DeVore
Bob DeVore, general manager at Wentworth By the Sea, describes plans by the Henley Group
to create a "world-class" resort and conference center on New Castle island. (Amy Miller photo)

The Henley Group, Inc., a public company based in LaJulla, Calif., controls $8 billion in businesses and other assets. You could say Henley is in the business of business.

Among the larger businesses operated by the Henley Group is Henley Manufacturing, which is involved in a joint effort with Henley Group in developing Wentworth By The Sea. Henley Manufacturing has sales of about $600 million and produces chemicals, auto parts and other industrial products.

Wheelabrator Technologies, another subsidiary, based in Hampton with annual sales of about $1 billion is one of the nation’s leading developers and operators of refuse to energy plants, cogeneration systems and other small power plants, environmental systems and industrial facilities. Henley owns about 80 percent equity in Wheelabrator.

Henley also has 78 percent of the equity in Fisher Scientific Group, a manufacturer of health and scientific products based in Pittsburgh, with annual sales of about $900 million.

Among its other holdings are Signal Capital Corporation, a financial services company with $1.5 billion in assets, and Signal Landmark Property, a developer of commercial, industrial and residential property in California and Hawaii.

The Henley Group has equity in several publicly traded companies, in addition to the subsidiaries it controls. It owns about 15 percent of the Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation, and about 10 percent of the American President Companies.

The company is headed by Michael D. Dingman, Managing Director-Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. Dingman and several key managers organized Wheelabrator Frye Inc., in the early 1970s. The company merged with the Signal Companies in 1983, which then merged with Allied Corporation in 1985 to form Allied-Signal, Inc., a conglomerate of some 35 businesses.

Henley was named for the English town famous for its regattas, because Dingman is a rowing enthusiast.

The Henley Group became a public company in May, 1986, when Allied-Signal distributed all of its Henley common stock to Allied Signal shareholders. At the same time, Henley sold 6 million shares of its own stock for $1.3 billion in a record-breaking initial public offering. Some say Henley was made up of a hodgepodge of companies Allied Signal didn’t want.

Dingman is considered an example of a new breed of financial entrepreneur. He talks of dividing, downsizing and revitalizing large corporations to make them more productive. He believes this is how American industry can compete.

Net revenues for the Henley Group in 1986 were $3.2 billion. Henley common stock is traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol HENG.

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