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Lord Myners, former chair of Marks & Spencer and former city minister, dies aged 73

Lauretta Roberts
16 January 2022

Lord Paul Myners, one of Britain's best know business figures and the former chair of Marks & Spencer, who was famous for refusing to entertain a bid for the retailer from  Sir Philip Green, has passed away at the age of 73.

The crossbench peer died in the early hours of Sunday, according to communications giant Edelman UK, where he served as chairman. In a statement distributed by Edelman and his five children, it stated that Lord Myners had “passed away peacefully” at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Lord Myners was born in 1948 and was brought up by his adoptive parents, a butcher and a hairdresser, in Cornwall.

After a stint as a London secondary school teacher and financial journalist at the Daily Telegraph, he launched his extensive finance career at the investment bank NM Rothschild, later growing his reputation in the industry as chief executive and then chair of fund manager Gartmore.

He worked his way up to other prominent chairing positions, including at Marks & Spencer, the Guardian Media Group, Land Securities and Tate art galleries. He was appointed as interim chair of M&S in 2004 just two days after Sir Philip Green famously made a bid for the then embattled retailer.

It was Myners who chaired the meeting at which Green's bid was formally rejected and he refused to enter into formal talks with the retail tycoon. He then parachuted Green's rival Stuart Rose, now Lord Rose, into the position of CEO at M&S and charged him with leading a turnaround.

Green never really got over the rejection and embarked on what was ultimately an ill-fated takeover over BHS, which was seen very much as a consolation prize.

Rose who is now chairman of Asda described Lord Myners as "a rare breed" and "a beacon in a sea of mediocrity.”

Rose told The Guardian: “He stood out, he was a man of immense wisdom. Intellectually very strong, a self-made man who was humble and loyal to the core. In this world we’re surrounded by today in business and public life, he had a massive moral compass. He knew instinctively what was right and wrong and stood up for the little man.”

Myners also held directorships of companies including NatWest, Coutts & Co, Lloyds of London, the Bank of New York and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, as well as a membership of the Court of the Bank of England.

Gordon Brown appointed him financial services secretary in 2008, with the task of managing the national response to the banking crisis. In tribute to Lord Myners, the former prime minister tweeted: “I worked with Paul Myners during the global financial crisis while in government back in 2008 and he was a real tower of strength throughout that time.

“My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

As Lord Myners of Truro, in the County of Cornwall, he was elevated to the House of Lords, and later became a crossbench peer.

The statement from his family said: “With great sadness we announce the loss of our beloved father Lord Paul Myners (1948-2022).

“He passed away peacefully in the early hours of this morning (Sunday Jan 16) at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital.

“He will be deeply missed and in our hearts forever.”

Edelman EMEA’s president and chief executive Ed Williams said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lord Myners, Edelman’s UK chairman.

“He made a huge contribution to the development and success of the firm over his tenure.

There are few people who bring such depth of knowledge and experience from the top of both the private and public sector, and Paul always did so with a strong social and moral conscience.

“He also brought fun and laughter and was able to move effortlessly from PLCs to pop culture.”

Image: Alamy

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