Obituary - ICIS Founder

Source: ECN

2001/10/21

Humphrey Sempill-Hinshelwood, founder of the ICIS chemicals pricing service, died in Paris on 12 October following a short illness.

Humphrey was an accomplished musician, a gourmand and wine connoisseur who began medical training but spurned a career in medicine, and took off from the UK for North America. On arriving in Montreal, Canada, in the early 1950s he landed a job as a music critic for a leading newspaper.

From there, Humphrey moved into television, regularly directing live theatre and lecturing at McGill University. From Montreal, he moved to New York, where he pursued his career in live television.

In 1977, Humphrey moved to Paris and took a part time job with McGraw-Hill reporting on aromatics for its fledgling marketwire. During this period, McGraw-Hill, at Humphrey's suggestion, made an attempt to introduce EMIS to the industry. As ever, Humphrey was an innovator, and his presentation was made to a group of senior executives from the entire industry in Europe.

It is interesting to look back and see how clearly he saw the future. His vision led Humphrey to the conclusion that he could report markets better than McGraw-Hill, and ICIS - Independent Chemical Information Services - was born in 1980.

Initially, it covered products that McGraw-Hill did not cover, but the product-line expanded as did his team of reporters, many of whom are still active and in senior positions in the reporting side of the industry.

In 1984, ICIS merged with London Oil Reports, giving the company the entire range from crude oil to petrochemicals. In 1994, the business was acquired by Reed Chemical Group, and at this point Humphrey ceased to have an interest in ICIS-LOR.