Bankers’ Canary Wharf ‘landlord’ knighted in New Year Honours

The Chief executive of Canary Wharf has been knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours for “services to charity, the community and the Financial Services industry.”

George Iacobescu, head of the group that owns and develops the thriving financial district, is sometimes referred to as “the bankers’ landlord.”

But life was a rough start for the 66-year-old Romanian who fled Ceausescu’s repressive communist regime in the 1970s, using contacts in the West to escape. He got to Canada, but had to leave his fianc�e Gabriela behind until succeeding in lobbying for her to be allowed to join him two years later.

Today, he is one of the most successful business leaders in the western world, having worked his way up as engineer for Olympia & York in Toronto, the original developers at Canary Wharf, promoted to Vice President in 1978.

He moved to London in 1988 as Olympia & York’s senior Vice President to oversee construction of Europe’s biggest regeneration project and stayed on when the company went into administration in 1991, becoming deputy chief executive of Canary Wharf Group formed in 1995 and finally chief executive last summer.

He was awarded a CBE in 2003 for “services to regeneration and inward investment” that included creating the East London Business Place which has helped small firms win �750m of contracts at Canary Wharf since 1997.

George Iacobescu, who holds an honorary University of East London Doctorate of Business Administration, is also a community activist who received a ‘Founding Ambassador’ award from Teach First education charity, which encourages university graduates into teaching and improves teaching in deprived areas.

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He is also trustee of the British Museum, Vice Patron of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and Patron of Jewish Care charity and the Community Safety Trust.