George Iacobescu

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George Iacobescu

Born (1945-11-09) 9 November 1945 (age 74)
Bucharest, Romania
OccupationChairman and CEO, Canary Wharf Group
ChildrenJulie Iacobescu

Sir George Iacobescu CBE (born 9 November 1945) is the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Canary Wharf Group, the London-based owners and developers of the Canary Wharf estate in London Docklands. He is one of the most successful Romanian-born businessmen.[1] He is the only Romanian born person to have been given a full British Knighthood.

Early life[edit]

Iacobescu was born in Bucharest, Romania and raised in relative poverty.[2] His father was a haematologist and his grandfather was a lawyer and newspaper publisher.[3] Iacobescu studied civil and industrial engineering at Bucharest University.[4]


After graduating, he worked as a structural engineer in Romania, his first job designing pump stations for a state-run business.[3] He was determined to leave the country, then under the control of Nicolae Ceauşescu's Communist Party, and so in 1975 Iacobescu used contacts in the West to escape to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[3] He was forced to leave his fiancée, Gabriela, behind, and so lobbied for her to be allowed to join him, which she did in 1977.[3]

On arrival in Canada he started in the property industry, and from 1975 to 1978, was construction director of Homeco Investments, a German-Canadian joint venture in Montreal and Toronto working on landmark buildings throughout North America. After moving to Toronto, Iacobescu worked for the Olympia & York company as an engineer. Following this, he worked as construction manager and then vice-president of Olympia & York from 1978 to 1987[5] working on many large construction projects, including the construction of the World Financial Centre, 4m sq ft headquarters of Merrill Lynch,[1] the Olympia Centre in Chicago, and the construction of Granicor, in Quebec.

In 1988, Iacobescu moved to London as senior vice-president of Olympia & York, to oversee the construction budget and delivery of the Canary Wharf project.[1] He stayed with the project when Olympia & York went into administration in 1991, working as Construction Director. He became Deputy Chief executive of the Canary Wharf Group when it was formed in 1995, and Chief Executive in March 1997.

In June 2011, Iacobescu was also appointed chairman of the Canary Wharf Group replacing Sir Martin Jacomb who retired; he holds both chairman and CEO positions.[3][6][6] During his time at Canary Wharf, Iacobescu has participated in the development and construction of more than 30 buildings.[1]

Iacobescu was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2003 Birthday Honours for services to regeneration and inward investment[3][7] Iacobescu was a member of the Board of Trustees of the British Museum.[8] from 2007-2015. In June 2011, 10 Downing Street announced that the Prime Minister would be re-appointing him to this post for a period of four years from 1 July 2011.[9] In addition to this role he is Vice-Patron of the Royal British Society of Sculptors,[10] a Patron of Jewish Care and the Community Safety Trust, and was founding Co-Chairman of Teach First.[11] He is also a Director of London First, and on the Advisory Board of the financial services organisation TheCityUK.[12] In 2016 he was appointed a member of the Government's Thames Estuary Commission [13] chaired by Michael Heseltine. He is a member of the Development Board of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the Council of the Royal College of Music,[14] and the Real Estate Advisory Board of the Financial Times.[15]

In August 2019, Iacobescu said he will step down as Chairman and CEO of Canary Wharf Group and take up the role of Executive Chairman.[16]


On 31 December 2011, he was knighted for services to charity, community and the financial services industry.[17] Although he is the third Romanian-born person to be knighted[18][19] (after Elie Wiesel who received an honorary knighthood, and British Army general Roy Redgrave whose mother was Romanian and who was born in Bucharest), he was the first to receive a full British knighthood having been born and educated in Romania and later becoming a British citizen. He was therefore feted in Romania as the "first" Romanian to be knighted.[20] Iacobescu has also been awarded three of Romania's national honours - Commander of the Order of the Star of Romania,[21] Commander of the Order For Merit and Commander of the Order of the Crown of Romania.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Iacobescu is married to Gabriela, Lady Iacobescu, and the father of one daughter, Julie.


  1. ^ a b c d "George Iacobescu Biography". Canary Wharf Corporate Website. Archived from the original on 8 December 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2009.
  2. ^ "Sir George Iacobescu: The Romanian visionary who transformed Docklands". Evening Standard. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "George Iacobescu: the bankers' landlord". Daily Telegraph. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  4. ^ "City Profile: From communism to the Footsie". Daily Telegraph. 22 October 2000. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  5. ^ "Financial Technology: King of canary". Technology Marketing Corp. 13 October 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  6. ^ a b Chris Spillane (22 June 2011). "Canary Wharf Chairman Martin Jacomb Retires, CEO Iacobescu Takes Over". Bloomberg. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  7. ^ "Honours List: DBEs and CBEs". BBC News. 13 June 2003. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
  8. ^ "The British Museum – Board of Trustees" (PDF). British Museum. 5 July 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  9. ^ "Trustees of the British Museum". Number 10. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
  10. ^ "List of Vice Patrons". Royal British Society of Sculptors Website. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Top marks for George Iacobescu". Teach First. 19 June 2011. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
  12. ^ "Advisory Council". TheCityUK Website. 17 April 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Lord Heseltine's growth plan for the Thames Estuary".
  14. ^ "Council Biographies" (PDF). Royal College of Music Website. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  15. ^ "FT Property Summit". "Financial Times". 22 November 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  16. ^ Miller, Robert (14 August 2019). "Canary Wharf tycoon Sir George Iacobescu ready to make way". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  17. ^ "No. 60009". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2011. p. 1.
  18. ^ "Romanian-born Canary Wharf CEO George Iacobescu gets Knighthood in UK". Romania Business Insider. 1 January 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  19. ^ "First Romanian awarded Knight Bachelor by Queen Elisabeth II". Romanian Times Online. 2 January 2012. Archived from the original on 22 April 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
  20. ^ "Sir George Iacobescu, al doilea lord roman, dupa Mihai Carciog Sr. Cum a vrut Intelligence Service sa o recruteze pe Ana Aslan - Ziaristi OnlineZiaristi Online". Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  21. ^ Systems, Indaco. "Decretul nr. 275/2012 privind conferirea Ordinului Național Steaua României în grad de Comandor". Lege5. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  22. ^ "Ordinului Coroana României". Familia Regala. Retrieved 20 June 2019.

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