Obituary: Angad Paul, entrepreneur, producer and philanthropist

Angad Paul, entrepreneur and film producer. Picture: Martyn Goddard
Angad Paul, entrepreneur and film producer. Picture: Martyn Goddard
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Born: 6 June, 1970, London. Died: 8 November, 2015, London, aged 45.

Businessman, philanthropist and film producer, Angad Paul plunged to his death after apparently committing suicide and falling eight stories from his West End penthouse. He suffered catastrophic injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, with the police deeming the incident “non-suspicious”.

Paul, the son of self-made billionaire, steel magnate and Labour party donor, Lord Paul of Marylebone, was the CEO of Caparo Holdings, which had gone into administration in October and had recently announced the loss of 450 jobs and the closure of Black Country plants at Darlaston, Dudley and West Bromwich, with the future of another 1,200 jobs uncertain.

Lord Paul had established Caparo in 1968 with a £5,000 loan, having initially come to the UK, in 1966, seeking medical treatment for his daughter, Ambika, who had leukaemia. At its peak, it stretched to the United States and India, with an annual turnover of £1bn and over 10,000 employees.

Away from steel, the company’s global business is also involved in product development, materials testing services, hotels, media, furniture and interior design, financial services, energy and private equity investment.

Angad Paul joined the company in 1996, taking full control in 2003 when his father stepped down to become chairman. Angad pursued a number of interests outside the steel industry, with ventures in nightclubs, property, fast cars and films and was consequently viewed by some as a playboy.

Lord Paul disagreed, and with profits rising and the family fortune valued at over £1.5bn, said: “There is no better feeling than having your children outperform you, and the boy is doing very well.”

Born in London in 1970, Angad Paul was the youngest of four children to Swraj and Aruna Paul. Like is older twin brothers, Angad was educated at Harrow where he excelled academically, played rugby and developed an innate talent for music, playing the drums. Lord Paul explained that he sent his sons to Harrow “because Winston Churchill and Jawaharlal Nehru (India’s first PM) went there”.

Swaraj Paul, appointed a life peer by Conservative PM, John Major in 1996, established the business in 1968, with first year sales of £14,000. He never looked back.

Angad then followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating with BAs in Economics and Media Arts & Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology . While there, he befriended British film director Sir Richard Attenborough, who was helping to establish a film and media unit at MIT, who, in turn, introduced him to Guy Ritchie, another film-maker.

Joining the Caparo Group in 1996, Paul immersed himself in the family business but soon pursued interests outside the steel industry.

An enthusiastic supporter of the British and Indian film industries through his companies Film24 and AV Pictures, Paul’s first venture was a comedy, Bombay Boys (1998), about three boys seeking their Indian roots. He was later listed as the executive producer on a number of Guy Ritchie’s films, including the hit crime comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), which cost £860K and took £18.5m at the box office and the sequel, Snatch (2000), another crime comedy which grossed £55m.

Following serious financial problems at Caparo, Paul withdrew funding for the TV channel Film24 and sold it to Sony Pictures in 2010.

Other ventures included co-founding the exclusive London nightclub Chinawhite and launching the Caparo T1, in 2006, a racing car capable of 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds, developed by designers from the McLaren Formula 1 team. Costing £211,000, during its Top Gear test drive, a visibly shaken Jeremy Clarkson famously screamed, “God Almighty, you can forget [Ferrari] Enzos, you can forget Koenigseggs, this is in a different league!”

Although a financial flop with only a handful sold, with its lightweight composite materials the car had an unforeseen spin-off. Paul realised the metal could be used to develop composite housing in India, which was quicker, cheaper to erect and stronger than conventional building materials.

In 2005, following a difficult delivery of his first child, Paul purchased new incubators for the entire ward of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, with the old ones being sent to Ghana at the request of the nurses. Paul was also patron of the education charity Shine alongside David Beckham and Sarah Brown, the wife of Gordon.

In 2012, the Accles & Pollock division of Paul’s Caparo enterprise provided tube-work and engineering expertise to Cern (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) for the Large Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator which identified the Higgs boson particle in July that year.

Comprising well over 20 companies, Caparo (UK) is part of a global network of businesses under the name, with operations in China, India and the USs.

Over the last 12 months, the global steel industry had been bracing itself for a downward turn, but with a strong pound, high electricity tariffs, a collapse in steel prices and China flooding the market with cheap steel, as demand in their home market declined, the UK sector announced the loss of 4,500 jobs in October alone.

Paul married his wife, media lawyer Michelle Bonn, in 2004. The couple have a daughter, Amalia, born 2005 and a son, Arki, born 2008.