Derek Higgs

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Biographical Information

Derek Higgs (died in 2008)

"A fully-fledged City grandee, Higgs remained proud of his roots in the Midlands and made it clear that his success in the financial arena was not, as was often the case with bankers of his generation, due to family connections.

"The son of a property developer who made a fortune rebuilding war-torn Coventry, Higgs knew from a young age that neither he nor his sister would inherit his father's fortune. The Alan Edwards Higgs Charity gives £750,000 a year to charities within 25 miles of the City, under the strict terms of reference laid out in his father's will.

"Higgs was educated at Solihull School, then graduated from Bristol University with a degree in economics in 1965. After accountancy training, he took his first City role at Barings from a job advertisement that said " no experience required".

"After a few years, he decided to leave Barings - which in his words was a "very old fashioned, blue blooded sort of place" - to join SG Warburg in 1972. It was a bold move that made his career. He spent 24 years there, earning a solid reputation as an old-style corporate financier, eventually becoming chairman of the merchant bank. He was traditional dealmaker. He helped sell the firm to Swiss Bank Corporation at a time when all the major City firms were seeking out stronger, foreign owners following the "big bang" that revolutionised share trading and deal making and opened up the City to competition. SBC later merged with Union Bank of Switzerland to form what is now known as UBS.

"Higgs retired from Warburgs in 1996 and joined the insurance company Prudential where he became chairman of the investment management arm, then known as Prudential Portfolio Managers and began get involved in corporate governance issues. He stayed for four years and took on a number of other roles including chairing Partnerships UK, a public-private group supporting infrastructure renewal. He even went back to Warburg's in an advisory role.

Higgs also held a large number of other corporate roles, but it was the task he took on in 2002 to review boardroom practices after the collapse of Enron in the US for which he endured most controversy. He was not the government's first choice for the review and his appointment raised eyebrows as he was a director of the property group British Land, which flouted the corporate governance codes by allowing John Ritblat to serve as both chairman and chief executive. But he threw himself into the role. Lord Dennis Stevenson of Coddenham, chairman of banking group HBOS, today described Higgs as "one of the leading and most wonderful people in the financial world for the last 30 years"...

"Higgs became chairman of Alliance & Leicester in 2005, a role that was particularly challenging following the onset of the credit crunch in the autumn of 2007 and the illness of the chief executive David Bennett. It was the bank that announced his death today.

"A life-long Guardian reader, Higgs was appointed a trustee of the Scott Trust, the ultimate owner of the Guardian and the Observer, in January. Last month he was named as chairman of investment firm Gleacher Shacklock, a boutique invest firm. A director of Coventry City since 1996 and passionate supporter, he would have been determined that the football club did everything possible to avoid relegation this season." [1]


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  1. guardian Sir Derek Higgs dies suddenly aged 64, organizational web page, accessed March 28, 2013.