Keith Harris - Former Director
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.
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#&38;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. 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 in 2010, on completion of the combined Cooper Gay Swett &Crawford group.
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, owner of Fulham football club and former owner of Harrods (sold to Qatari investors).
In 2013 he advised on the sale of Fulham Football Club by Fayed to Shahid Khan, the US billionaire. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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 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.
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.
Self-professed United fan Harris claimed the group wants "to do something for the good of Manchester United and the good of football." 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.
Harris obtained his Doctorate in Economics in 1977 and embarked on a career in investment banking.
On 15th May 2018 it was announced that Dr Harris would become Deputy Chairman in place of Jon Woods who will remain on the Board.
In addition to taking up additional responsibilities as Deputy Chair, Dr Harris will be the Board Member responsible for driving the Club’s new stadium project forward, an area in which he has vast experience from his time as Director of Wembley National Stadium Limited, owner of Wembley Stadium, between 2001 and 2007.
Commenting on his appointment to Deputy Chairman, Dr Harris said: “I am looking forward to taking a more senior role in the overall running of the Club at Board level and to be taking the lead in some of the Club’s most important projects, from first-team football matters to the new stadium project.
The opportunity we have at Bramley-Moore Dock is potentially one of the most significant in the Club’s history. Through my previous involvement in Wembley, I understand both the opportunities and the complexities in delivering a new stadium. While we still have some significant hurdles to overcome, we’re all fully committed to making this happen as quickly and efficiently as we possibly can.”
On 26th July 2019, Everton announced that Keith had left his role as Everton Director.