Keith R. Harris

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Keith Harris
Born Keith Reginald Harris
(1953-04-11) 11 April 1953 (age 64)[1]
Manchester, England, UK
Education PhD in Economics
Occupation Financier
Employer Keith Harris & Associates

Keith Reginald Harris is a London-based investment banker and financier with a 30-year career as a senior corporate finance and takeover advisor, having held senior executive positions at leading institutions Morgan Grenfell, Drexel Burnham Lambert, Apax Partners and HSBC Investment Bank. He is a private equity investor with interests in varied private equity holdings in financials, media and sport. He was previously Chairman of the Football League and director of Wembley National Stadium Ltd., owner of Wembley Stadium.[2]

In October 2016, he became a director of Everton F.C.[3]


Dr Harris has advised on hundreds of debt and equity issues and complex cross border transactions as a senior executive at leading global banks, as well as acting for noteworthy clients and high-profile transactions like the £13.5bn hostile bid for British American Tobacco by Kerry Packer, Sir James Goldsmith and Lord Rothschild. Harris continues to act for rich families from the Middle East, Russia and India on sport and media related acquisitions.

Dr Harris was President of Morgan Grenfell Inc. (now owned by Deutsche Bank) and was the youngest ever director at the British bank. Morgan, Grenfell & Co. was a leading London-based investment bank regarded as one of the oldest and once most influential British merchant banks. The bank was founded by the American George Peabody in 1838 as the UK branch of his US bank which subsequently became known as J.P. Morgan & Co.[4] In 1904, Edward Grenfell was made a partner in the firm, and, in 1909, it underwent a change of name to become Morgan, Grenfell and Company. Dr Harris spent eight years at Morgan Grenfell.

Harris departed the English firm for an American investment bank, accepting a position as managing director and Head of International Corporate Finance at the American firm Drexel Burnham Lambert. Upon the demise of Drexel Burnham, Mr Harris moved to the private equity sector.

From 1990 to 1994 Mr Harris served as Chief Executive of Apax Partners Worldwide LLP (formerly known as Apax Partners Ltd.). Apax is a private equity asset management firm founded by American Alan Patricof and Sir Ronald Cohen.

Harris was recruited by Sir William Purves, then Chairman of HSBC Group, to HSBC Investment Bank PLC where from 1994 to 1999 he served as global Chief Executive. At HSBC, Harris oversaw a staff of approximately 13,500 in forty-six countries. Under his leadership, HSBC Investment Bank achieved an average annual return on equity of more than 20% with over 30% in some years, and reported over £400 million in annual profit.

In 1999, Keith left HSBC to pursue a number of interests as chairman or non-executive director of a range of public and private companies including Halfords plc. He became Executive Chairman of Seymour Pierce and an investor beginning in 2003 when he organised a buyout group that acquired the UK investment bank founded in 1803. Mr. Harris brought his sport M&A practice to the bank and ran the advisory business through the bank making it the leading strategic financial adviser to top-level professional football teams, advising on dozens of acquisitions, including Chelsea, Newcastle, West Ham, Aston Villa, Fulham and Manchester City, among others. Seymour Pierce, now a part of American securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald, had been the number one ranked investment bank in London for LSE AIM listed companies.[5] The firm had been a registered Nominated Advisor, or NOMAD, with authority delegated by the London Stock Exchange to regulate and supervise companies admitted to trade publicly on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) segment of the LSE. Until its take over by Cantor, Seymour Pierce had been the primary regulator for approximately 80 public companies on AIM.

Mr Harris also has been active in the insurance sector, serving since 1999 as a non-executive director of Benfield Group Plc., a reinsurance intermediary and capital advisory business, until its $1.75 billion acquisition by Aon Re Global in 2009 (NYSE: AON).

He joined the Board of Cooper Gay (Holdings) Ltd as non-executive director in July 2009 and was appointed as non executive director of Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford Ltd (now Ed Broking) in 2010, on completion of the combined Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford group.[6]

In 2015 Mr Harris joined the board of MeiraGTx, a leading US based gene therapy development company. He also co-founded and became Chairman of AS Sports Management, a UK based, football club consultancy.

Football clients[edit]

Harris has been publicly associated with a number of ultra high-net-worth clients. These clients include Roman Abramovich of Russia, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand, American billionaire, Randy Lerner, and Mohamed Fayed,[7] owner of Fulham football club and former owner of Harrods (sold to Qatari investors).

In 2013 Mr Harris concentrated his business as an independent consultant to owners of football clubs. That year, he advised on the sale of Fulham Football Club by Fayed to Shahid Khan, the US billionaire.[8] Khan is the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars American Football franchise, which he purchased in 2011, having made his estimated £1.7bn fortune in the manufacture of car parts. He has subsequently advised on several transactions including where an investment by a group of US private equity investors was made into Crystal Palace Football Club, the sale of Swansea City AFC to a number of US private individuals and the sale of a large minority stake in Everton to Farhad Moshiri (businessman).

Harris advised Forbes 400 member Richard Desmond on the £125 million acquisition of the Express Group, the media company that publishes the Daily and Sunday Express newspaper.[9]

He represented American billionaire, Randy Lerner, in the acquisition of Aston Villa football club, one of the oldest clubs in the world. Lerner is also the owner of the Cleveland Browns whose fortune was originally derived from the MBNA banking group. It was a letter from William McGregor, a Director at Aston Villa, to four other clubs on 2 March 1888, which led to the formation of the world's first league football competition.

In 2010, he advised an unnamed Middle Eastern client on the attempted acquisition of Liverpool F.C..[10] He has acted for numerous other Middle Eastern clients from several countries in the region. He is believed to have developed many of his Middle East contacts whilst CEO of HSBC Investment Bank.[citation needed] The bank has long roots in the region, having acquired The British Bank of the Middle East in 1959 (now called HSBC Bank Middle East Limited) which was established in London in September 1889 originally as the Imperial Bank of Persia.

In October 2016, Harris was appointed to the board of Everton FC.,[11]

Red Knights[edit]

In 2010, a cabal of Britain's leading businessmen calling themselves the Red Knights met at the offices of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the law firm, to attempt to remove Malcolm Glazer, the club's owner. The group then met with Keith Harris, a Manchester United fan and the chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, to broker a takeover.[12] Mr Harris, a lifelong Manchester United fan, joined as a member of the Red Knights consortium of financiers that sought to buy the club from the Glazer family, the controversial American owner of the football club.

The leading figures of the Red Knights are Jim O'Neill, a former HSBC investment bank chief executive and chief economist at Goldman Sachs; Seymour Pierce's Keith Harris; Paul Marshall, a partner at the hedge fund Marshall Wace; Richard Hytner of advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi and lawyer Mark Rawlinson, a partner in Freshfields' corporate practice, who advised United during the Glazer takeover negotiations.[13]

Self-professed United fan Harris claimed the group wants "to do something for the good of Manchester United and the good of football."[citation needed] In the past, he has been involved in the takeovers of West Ham, Manchester City and Aston Villa, he has been extremely critical of the debt-burden the Glazers have brought to Manchester United.[citation needed]


Harris obtained his Doctorate in Economics in 1977 and embarked on a career in investment banking.[14]


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