Pennzoil Company

During the Texas oil boom of the late 1940s Hugh and Bill Liedtke and a friend called George Bush formed Zapata Petroleum. The company hit oil in 120 different places in the Jameson Field and in the early 1950s expanded into offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Bush decided to leave the company and moved to Houston where he became involved in politics - a move which ultimately led to the White House.The Liedtke Brothers then joined forces with Paul Getty to bid for South Penn Oil, a leftover of the 1911 break-up of Standard Oil. In 1963 Zapata was merged with South Penn and the organization was renamed Pennzoil after its leading brand. The company then moved its headquarters to Houston.Two years later J. Hugh Liedtke engineered the takeover of Shreveport-based United Gas Pipeline - a company which was five times the size of Pennzoil - in a ground-breaking piece of corporate raiding, offering to pay UGP shareholders more than their shares were worth. The Lieddtke Brothers bought 42% of United Gas stock. In 1983 Pennzoil tried to buy Getty Oil but at the last minute Getty sold to Texaco.Pennzoil sued Texaco and in 1985 a Texas jury awarded a record $10.5bn in damages. Texaco had to seek bankruptcy protection and eventually settled with Pennzoil for $3bn.Liedtke stood down as chief executive in 1988 but remained chairman as Pennzoil went on another corporate raid against Chevron, buying 8.8% of the Californian company for $2.1bn. By the end of 1990 the stake was increased to 9.4%. In 1992 Pennzoil agreed to swap $1.2bn of its Chevron shares for 266 oil and gas properties in the Gulf and along the Gulf Coast.Under the leadership of James Pate Pennzoil sold off many of it subsidiaries to concentrate on oil and gas exploration and motor oils. It diversified into the automotive care business with the purchase of Jiffy Lube, the world's largest franchiser of quick lube centers.Pennzoil has had a long and very successful career as a sponsor in Indycar racing and most recently in the Indy Racing League.