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London property giant Iacobescu to retire after 36 years at Canary Wharf

Retiring Canary Wharf chair Sir George Iacobescu (Canary Wharf Group)
Retiring Canary Wharf chair Sir George Iacobescu (Canary Wharf Group)

One of the giants of London’s property scene Sir George Iacobescu is to retire as chairman of Canary Wharf after 36 years working on the regeneration of the area.

Sir George, who joined the company in 1988 when the huge financial, commercial and residential district was just beginning to emerge from the wreckage of London’s former Docklands, will step down on Monday 1 July.

The 78 year old has been one of the driving forces behind its transformation since 1988 when he came on board as senior vice president of construction for Canary Wharf’s predecessor company, the original developer Olympia & York.

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The Bucharest born engineer was construction director of Canary Wharf Group (CWG) from 1991 and joined the board in 1995. He became chief executive in 1997 and also chairman in 2011, before moving to a non-executive role in 2021. He became the first Romanian born British citizen to be knighted in 2012.

He will be succeeded by former Legal & General boss Sir Nigel Wilson who will work alongside current CEO Shobi Khan.

Sir George said: “It has been the honour and the challenge of a lifetime to have worked with an extraordinary group of people transforming a derelict dock into a thriving mixed-use city district.

“CWG is the first company on the planet to have built an entirely new central business district from scratch.

“Today, Canary Wharf is home to thousands of residents, businesses large and small across many sectors, one of the UK.’s busiest shopping centres as well as parks, gardens, shops, restaurants and bars. It is a thriving community in the heart of the old East End.

“With the continuing growth of the tech sector, health and life sciences, new leisure activities and the greening of the Wharf, there are exciting times ahead for the estate.”

During his time at Canary Wharf, Sir George has participated in the construction of more than 30 buildings.

As well as the regeneration of the Docklands site that gave the company its name, Canary Wharf Group under Sir George’s leadership also worked on the redevelopment of the Shell Centre site on London’s South Bank, Drapers Gardens in the City and the “Walkie Talkie” building at 20 Fenchurch Street.”

Sir George studied civil and industrial engineering at Bucharest University. From 1969 to 1975 he worked as a structural engineer in Romania before emigrating to Canada to escape the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. It was there that he joined Olympia & York.