Driving force behind London’s second financial district to be replaced by Nigel Wilson

Canary Wharf Group has appointed former Legal & General chief executive Sir Nigel Wilson as its new non-executive chairman replacing company veteran Sir Goerge Iacobescu.

The company, owned by Canadian investment group Brookfield and the Qatar Investment Authority, said Wilson would replace the 78-year-old Iacobescu, who it described as a “driving force” behind the creation of Canary Wharf, at the beginning of next month.

Iacobescu 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.”


Source: Canary Wharf Group

Sir George Iacobescu is widely considered to be the mastermind behind the growth of London’s second financial district

Iacobescu, who became chief executive of Canary Wharf in 1997 and its chairman in 2011, will step down as chair on 1 July after 36 years at the firm.

Wilson’s appointment comes at a critical time for the estate as it looks to rebrand in the wake of businesses moving out of the Docklands estate.

>> See also: Why Nigel Wilson is persisting with L&G’s huge housing push

Some long-standing financial tenants such as HSBC have decided to leave for smaller space in the City while others are cutting back on the amount of space they take up in the wake of costs and post-pandemic working practices.

Among the initiatives being looked at to increase diversity of tenants are moves into life sciences with specialist developer Kadans building a 17-storey tower designed by KPF there, while Canary Wharf is also looking at increasing the amount of retail, leisure and hotel space it has at the site.

Sir Nigel Wilson

Sir Nigel Wilson, who championed L&G’s push into the housing market, left the insurance giant last year

Wilson said: “Canary Wharf is becoming a city within a city with approximately 20 million square feet of vibrant space across offices, housing, retail and leisure.”

Wilson joined Legal & General in 2009 as chief financial officer and later became chief executive in 2012 before announcing he was leaving at the start of last year.

He was widely credited with leading the insurance giant’s push into the housing market including the modular market which it pulled the plug on after racking up millions of pounds in losses over several years.