Michael Edwardes

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Michael Edwardes
Born (1930-10-11) 11 October 1930 (age 88)
NationalitySouth African, British
EducationRhodes University
Known forChairman, British Leyland (1977–1982)

Sir Michael Edwardes (born 11 October 1930)[1] is a British-South African business executive.


Edwardes matriculated from St. Andrew's College in 1947 before graduating from Rhodes University. He began his career in 1951 as a management trainee for battery manufacturer Chloride.[2] He went on in 1966 to serve as the general manager of Alkaline Batteries, one of the groups operating companies at Redditch, Worcestershire UK. He later joined the Chloride main board and became Chief Executive in 1971 and remained in that position until 1977

He was appointed to the UK's National Enterprise Board, a QUANGO whose role was to provide financing to large UK state-owned enterprises (or nationalized industries), including the country's ailing motor giant, British Leyland, when it was established in 1975.

In 1977 he was appointed as chief executive of British Leyland, and within two weeks he became chairman as the company's board was 'pruned' from 13 to 7 members.[3] In 1979 he was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours.[4]

The next year, in 1980 he attracted criticism for a speech to the CBI Conference in which he said, "If the Cabinet do not have the wit and imagination to reconcile our industrial needs with the fact of North Sea oil, they would do better to leave the bloody stuff in the ground."[5]

His tenure with British Leyland lasted until 1982, when he was replaced by Harold Musgrove.

In 1982, on his retirement from British Leyland as CEO, Sir Michael Edwardes was presented with a British Racing Green Jaguar XJS. He later had this car shipped to South Africa, where he used it for board meetings at General Motors South Africa in 1988.

In 1984, he became Chairman of ICL, but resigned six months later when the company was acquired by STC.

Edwardes wrote Back from the Brink, a book which discusses his experiences at British Leyland.

He donated over R500,000 to St. Andrew's College in 2005.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Today's birthdays". The Daily Telegraph. London. 11 October 2018. p. 26.
  2. ^ Feder, Barnaby J. (24 March 1985). "Britain's Mr. Fix-It: Sir Michael Edwardes". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  3. ^ "MotorWeek: Surgery for survival". Motor. Vol. 152: nbr 3919. 26 November 1977. p. 2.
  4. ^ "Newsflashes". Motor. Vol. 155 nbr 4002. 23 June 1979. p. 4.
  5. ^ Lorenz, Andrew (20 September 2009). "How the Warrior rescued GKN from 1980s slump". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 14 March 2019.

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