Duke bows out
By Stephen Seawright
Last Updated: 1:01am GMT 19/01/2007
The Duke of Westminster, Britain's third-wealthiest man, is stepping down as chairman of his family's real estate company after 30 years in charge.
He will step down on May 1 as non-executive chairman of the Grosvenor Group, which owns property worth more than £9bn. Its holdings include 120 hectares of central London, including Mayfair and Belgravia.
The Earl of Home, chairman of the exclusive private bank Coutts which counts the Queen amongst its customers, will replace the duke.
"I have for some time made it clear privately that, when I reached the age of 55, I would want to hand on the chairmanship of the board," the Duke of Westminster said.
In addition to property in London, Grosvenor owns estates Lancashire and Cheshire as well as property in central Paris and Madrid. The company has also invested in Asia since the 1960s and has property in Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo.
Despite the boom in commerical property in the UK over the past decade, Grosvenor has remained a privately owned company. Speaking in 2005, the Duke of Westminster was adamant that Grosvenor should not list on the stock exchange.
He said: "Over my dead body would we ever become a plc. I don't have people crawling all over me and telling me I'm doing it wrong. If I do it wrong I'm my own master."
Grosvenor counts Lord George of St Tudy, the former governor of the Bank of England, among its non-executive directors.
Jeremy Newson, chief executive of Grosvenor, said: "Under the Duke's chairmanship the business has been transformed. We have built up new businesses in continental Europe, Asia and fund management."