Brain Food: How he made his pile

Peter de Savary, Property developer.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Who is he? The 62-year-old entrepreneur compares himself to Carnegie, but is nicknamed 'Peter Unsavoury' in the City. After a spectacular fall from grace, he's said to be worth £20 million.

How did he make his millions? He started out trading in oil and wheat in West Africa, becoming a millionaire before he was 30. He then moved into shipping, entertainment and hotels. In the early 1990s, he came close to joining Britain's richest 100, but by 1992 his empire had collapsed in the recession, with debts of more than £700 million.

The secret of his success? Opportunism has been a characteristic since his days at Charterhouse, from which he was expelled for sleeping with his housemaster's au pair. On a 1969 flight to Africa he found himself sitting next to the brother of the president of a starvation-ravaged Nigeria. De Savary soon set up a government-supported company importing flour. He describes himself as 'an enthusiast, an optimist and problem-solver'. As chairman of Millwall FC, he needs to be all that and more.

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Enterprise

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