Simon Murray

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For other people named Simon Murray, see Simon Murray (disambiguation).
Simon Murray
Born (1940-03-25) 25 March 1940 (age 76)
Leicester, England
Known for Businessman, adventurer, author
Spouse(s) Jennifer Murray (née Mather)
Children 3

Simon Murray, CBE (born 25 March 1940) is a British businessman, adventurer,[1] author, and former French Foreign Legionnaire. He was the oldest man to reach the South Pole unsupported, at the age of 63.

Early life[edit]

Murray was born in Leicester, England into a family with some tradition of military service.[2] His father belonged to a wealthy family. Murray's grandfather on his father's side retained a permanent suite at the Connaught Hotel, while his grandmother retained a similar suite at Claridges Hotel. Murray's father abandoned the family early on and Murray claims to have had no recollection of him at that time. An uncle paid for Murray to attend Bedford School, an independent school in the county town of Bedford in Bedfordshire. In 1960, he joined the French Foreign Legion, and served for five years in the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e REP). During his service, he fought in the Algerian War against the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). After rising to the rank of Chief Corporal, he turned down an offer to attend Officers' School in France, and left the Legion in 1965 after completing his service. He wrote of his experiences in the Legion in the book Legionnaire, published in 1978. And later, based on his book he produced the autobiographical movie "Deserter" which only came as a DVD.

Business career[edit]

On leaving the Foreign Legion in 1965, he married his wife Jennifer, and moved to Hong Kong where he worked for Jardine Matheson for fourteen years. After that, he left to start his own company, Davenham Investments, a project advisory company. N.M.Rothschild took a 50% stake in Davenham. Amongst many high-profile deals, Davenham went on to represent Mitsui in the Singapore Mass Transit Railway project.

In 1984 Davenham was sold to Li Ka-Shing and Simon became the Group managing director of Hutchison Whampoa – he stayed for ten years, overseeing Hutchison's acquisition of Hong Kong Electric, and negotiating their entry into the oil business through their acquisition of Husky Oil. Whilst CEO of Hutchison, they founded the mobile phone company, Orange, turning it into a global brand which was ultimately sold to Mannesmann for US$33 billion.

From 1994 to 1998, Simon was the Executive Chairman of the Deutsche Bank Group in Asia. He then established his own company, GEMS, a mid-sized investment group operating across Asia. In addition to this Simon was a founder of Distacom which made a number of mobile telecoms investments including Madacom in Madagascar, Spice Telecom in India, Sunday Communications in Hong Kong. He has also invested in other mobile operations in New Zealand, San Marino, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere.

Murray remarked in April 2011 that he was not keen to hire young women in his company Glencore (Swiss-Based) because they were likely to get married and get pregnant; he was subsequently forced to issue a "humbling apology".[3]

Simon Murray is currently the Executive Chairman of GEMS, and a board director of the Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd., Orient Overseas (International) Ltd., Wing Tai Properties Ltd., Arnhold Holdings Ltd., Richemont SA, Essar Energy plc, Omnicorp Limited and IRC Limited. He is now chairman of Gulf Keystone Petroleum. He was formerly the chairman of Glencore. He has in the past served on boards and held advisory positions with a number of companies such as Vodafone, Tommy Hilfiger Corporation, Vivendi Universal, Usinor SA, Hermes, General Electric (USA), China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), Macquarie Bank, N.M. Rothschild, and Bain (the consultancy company). He continues to serve on the advisory board of Lightbridge Corporation (USA), and was on the Development Advisory Board of Imperial College, London.

Adventurer and explorer[edit]

Three years later, following a suggestion by his wife, Murray joined Pen Hadow for a trek to the Geographic South Pole.[1] The 1,200 km trek started in early December 2004 at Hercules Inlet on the Zumberge Coast, Antarctica and was completed when they reached the South Pole about two months later.[4] They climbed up to 2,835 m above mean sea level on the way.[4] Murray became the oldest man to reach the South Pole unsupported.[1]


He has been awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) by H.M. The Queen, and the Order of Merit of the French Republic and is a "Chevalier de La Legion d’Honneur". He holds an Honorary Degree in law, from the University of Bath and attended the (SEP) Stanford Executive Program in the US.


In the 80's, Murray presented a documentary on the French Foreign Legion, where he explained the traditions and folklore that surround this elite force.[5] He also appeared and contributed on the documentary series Escape to the legion[6] and Weaponology.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Murray married long-time sweetheart, the former Jennifer Mather, with whom he has three children and six grandchildren. Jennifer Murray was the first woman to fly around the world in a helicopter.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Desert Island Discs with Simon Murray". Desert Island Discs. 4 January 2009. BBC. Radio 4. 
  2. ^ Murray, Simon (2006). Legionnaire. p. xv. ISBN 0-89141-887-3. 
  3. ^ Jill Treanor and Dan Milmo, "Glencore chairman: Women 'like bringing up children' more than boardroom", The Guardian, 24 April 2011
  4. ^ a b Adler, Claire (Autumn 2003). "Pen Hadlow". UCL People: 2. 
  5. ^ "The French Foreign Legion presented by Simon Murray". YouTube. 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  6. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  7. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-13. 

External links[edit]