Born in 1929, Jim Slater qualified as a Chartered Accountant at the age of 24 and immediately joined the Dohm Group. After three months, he became General Manager of one of its main subsidiaries and then spent the following two years reorganising all the other small industrial companies within the group.
A few months after leaving Dohm, he was appointed Secretary and Chief Accountant of Park Royal Vehicles, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ACV. Subsequently he was made Commerical Director of AEC and, when Leyland took over ACV, he became Commercial Manager of the new group. He was later promoted to Deputy Sales Director under Donald Stokes.
Jim Slater first became interested in investment when he was a director of AEC. While recovering from an illness he developed and honed his stockmarket investment system. He approached Nigel Lawson, who at the time was City Editor of The Sunday Telegraph, and agreed to write an investment column under the pseudonym ‘Capitalist’. During the next two years the ghost portfolio of ‘Capitalist’ appreciated by 68.9% against the market average of 3.6%.
In 1964, Jim Slater left Leyland to acquire control of H Lotery & Co, a £1.5m public company which grew into Slater Walker Securities, one of the fifty largest companies in the UK, capitalized at over £200 million (about £4 billion in today’s money). Slater Walker became a conglomerate, but then gradually disposed of its industrial interests to become an international investment banking organisation. Jim resigned as Chairman in October 1975 because the Singapore Government began to try to extradite him from the UK for alleged offences by the company in Singapore. In January 1977 there was found to be no case against him.
When Slater Walker collapsed, due to the secondary banking crisis in 1975, Jim Slater famously found himself to be a ‘minus millionaire’ owing £1m more than his assets. Within a few years he repaid all of his debts with interest.
In 1976, Jim Slater formed a 50:50 company with Lonrho to invest in blocks of flats in London which were being sold at bargain prices. At one point the joint company owned over 1,500 flats. Jim made several million from this venture, which gave him the idea of time-sharing salmon rivers in Scotland. He realised that the management company formed to handle the service charge of individual flat owners would also work for the owners of timeshares of beats on Scottish rivers. The porter in a block of flats is similar to the ghillie on a river, the boiler and the garden in flats are similar to the fishing hut, the boats and river itself. He formed Salar Properties which in the 1980s time-shared seven schemes including the legendary Lower Redgorton beat on the River Tay.
Jim Slater helped his business partner, Ian Watson, to found Centennial Minerals in 1982. The company owned a major share in the Montana Tunnels gold mine and was sold to Pegasus Gold at a substantial profit three years later.
In 1992, Jim wrote The Zulu Principle, a best-selling investment book, which was followed by Beyond the Zulu Principle, Investment Made Easy and, in partnership with Tom Stevenson, How to Become a Millionaire.
Shortly after the publication of The Zulu Principle, Jim co-operated with Hemmington Scott and spent a year with them devising Company REFS (Really Essential Financial Statistics), the well-known monthly statistical company investment guide which remains very popular today. It is available here.
In the late nineties, Jim Slater wrote a column for the Mail on Sunday usually recommending a share a month. At the time Tiptracker followed the results of recommendations of all newsletters taking the purchase price of the recommendation on the close after the day it was made. Jim’s recommendations were top of the table with an average rise of 87.9% over a 27 month period.
Jim Slater joined forces with his son Mark in December 1999 to found Internet Indirect, an internet incubator fund. In November 2000, the company was sold to New Media Spark in a share exchange at over four times the initial price.
In April 2000, Jim Slater with friends and business associates founded BioProjects International Limited, a private company, to invest in early-stage biotech companies. In May 2002, BioProjects was floated on AIM with Jim as Chairman. During the next few years BioProjects followed the classic investment strategy of cutting losses and running profits. Almost all of its investments were sold off. The notable exception was Vialogy Corp, a high-tech company in California with technology developed by NASA to identify weak sound signals from outer space. In October 2006, the outstanding shares in Vialogy were purchased by BioProjects and the company was reversed into BioProjects, which changed its name to Vialogy plc. On the reverse, Jim Slater resigned as Chairman and handed over to the Deputy Chairman, Terry Bond, who has since taken the company a long way forward. In recent years, Vialogy has been concentrating most of its efforts on helping oil companies to find and characterise oil and gas reserves.
In partnership with Ian Watson, Jim founded Galahad Gold in 2003. The company made some very successful investments during the commodities boom including Northern Dynasty Minerals and Uramin. By 2008 all of Galahad’s investments had been sold producing an average profit of 66% per annum over its four year life. In 2008, Galahad was liquidated voluntarily and the cash proceeds were distributed to shareholders. Click on the link to read The Galahad Gold Story in more detail.
Jim Slater and Ian Watson founded Agrifirma Brazil in 2008 to invest in transformational land in Brazil. In August 2011 the company entered into a joint venture with a leading Brazilian private equity group and changed its name to Genagro Ltd.
In parallel to his investment activities, from 1976 until 1982 Jim Slater wrote a number of children’s books including six novels and the best-selling A.Mazing Monsters. He also owned for several years the largest children’s bookshop in the UK, the Children’s Book Centre in Kensington.
Throughout the years from 1975, Jim was a very active stockmarket investor and remained so until his death. He was married to Helen for 50 years. They have four children and ten grandchildren.