Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Scion of UK Banking Dynasty, Dies at 91 in London - The Jewish Voice
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Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Scion of UK Banking Dynasty, Dies at 91 in London

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Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Scion of UK Banking Dynasty, Dies at 91 in London
Edited by: Fern Sidman

Just mention the surname “Rothschild” in polite conversation at a dinner party or public gathering and one would be sure to raise eyebrows as that name has been synonymous with the success of the banking and finance industries for hundreds of years.

Recently, it was reported that the London born scion of the European banking dynasty, Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild has died at the age of 91 on Monday evening in the city he was born in, according to a New York Times report.

Confirming his death was the Rothschild Archive, which was founded by the Rothschild family, according to the NYT report.

Born into great wealth, Evelyn de Rothschild became one of England’s most eligible bachelors, spending his youth travelling, socializing, driving exotic sports cars, enjoying thoroughbred horse racing and playing polo, as was reported by Wikipedia. He failed economics and dropped out of Cambridge University, seemed happier on polo grounds than in banking circles in the City, and had little taste for high finance or investment strategies, the NYT reported.

It was not until age 26 that he decided to join N M Rothschild & Sons banking house to be trained in the family’s business. Wikipedia also reported that In 1955, a couple of years prior to Sir Evelyn’s entry into the family’s business, his father had to retire from the position of chairman due to illness and his cousin Victor Rothschild took over as chairman.
The Rothschild name and history weighed upon Sir Evelyn, according to the NYT report. His father was the chairman and his great-great-grandfather, Nathan Mayer de Rothschild, had founded the London bank in 1811 and helped finance the Duke of Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.

Since the 1760s, when the patriarch Mayer Amschel Rothschild founded the dynasty in Frankfurt and sent four of his five sons — the five arrows in the family crest — to establish four more businesses in London, Paris, Vienna and Naples, the Rothschilds had been a partnership whose wealth and family ties had been a bulwark, the NYT reported. But in the 20th century, world wars, the Great Depression and other strains had disrupted that alliance.
To rebuild the Old World partnership, Rothschild led a successful effort to reunify disparate family interests under a Swiss-based canopy, Rothschilds Continuation Holdings, which held stakes in Rothschild firms in Britain, France, the United States, the Netherlands, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and other locales.

“The first important strength of the family is unity,” he told The New York Times in 1996.

N.M. Rothschild & Sons, the British branch of the family banking empire began in 18th-century Frankfurt, Germany, and that, with its networks of couriers and spies, financial wizardry and political alliances, spread across Europe, was making fortunes and influencing the destinies of nations for 200 years, as was reported by the NYT.

Over two decades, colleagues said, Sir Evelyn mastered the intricacies of a boutique bank trying to survive in a globalized world of financial institutions, some with 200,000 employees and trillion-dollar assets. His bank had only 600 employees and assets of $7 billion, but it had the storied Rothschild name, the NYT reported.

De Rothschild was appointed a director of Paris-based de Rothschild Frères in 1968 while Guy de Rothschild from the French branch of the family became a partner at N M Rothschild & Sons, Wikipedia reported. In 1976, he took over as bank chairman from Victor Rothschild and in 1982 became chairman of Rothschilds Continuation Holdings AG, the coordinating company for the merchant banking group.
Wikipedia reported that he became co-chairman of Rothschild Bank A.G., Zurich in 1994, serving until 2003 when he oversaw the merger of the family’s French and UK houses. David René de Rothschild of the French branch took over as executive chairman of Rothschild International after the different branches had been merged and Sir Evelyn continued as non-executive chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons, according to the Wikipedia report. In 2003, he founded with his wife, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a holding company, E.L. Rothschild, in order to manage their investments in The Economist and various enterprises in India.

In his role at the family business, de Rothschild helped Britain privatize its railroads, steel and coal in the tradition of his ancestors, who had helped finance Britain’s 1875 purchase of a controlling interest in the Suez Canal, the NYT reported. It had even helped finance construction of the Underground, London’s subway system.

The NYT reported indicated that the Rothschilds had financed the armies of Europe in the Napoleonic Wars, salvaged the Bank of England in a liquidity crisis, and were instrumental in passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.
Just as his antecedents did, he promoted strong ties with Britain’s government, news media and financial and business communities. He became chairman of The Economist and director of Lord Beaverbrook’s newspaper group, chairman of the British Merchant Banking & Securities House Association and a financial adviser to Queen Elizabeth II, who knighted him in 1989, according to the NYT report.

Throughout his career, de Rothschild was actively involved in a number of other organizations in both the private and public sectors and held the following business positions:

Deputy Chairman – Milton Keynes Development Corporation (1971–1984)

Chairman – The Economist (1972–1989)

Director – IBM United Kingdom Holdings Limited (1972–1995)

Chairman – United Racecourses (1977–1994)

Director – De Beers Consolidated Mines (1977–1994)

Chairman – British Merchant Banking & Securities House Association (1985–1989)

Wikipedia reported that he served as a director of the newspaper group owned by Lord Beaverbrook. Years later, he served for a time as a Director of Lord Black’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. An owner of thoroughbred racehorses, he was a past chairman of United Racecourses.

In 1967, Sir Evelyn created the Eranda Foundation to support social welfare, promote the arts and to encourage research into medicine and education, according to the Wikipedia report.

Having a strong alliance with the British monarchy, Rothschild also served as Queen Elizabeth II’s financial adviser, Wikipedia reported. He was a Governor of the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as an active patron of the arts and supporter of a number of charities. Wikipedia reported that he served as Chairman of the Delegacy of St Mary’s Hospital Medical School from 1977 to 1988 and was a Member of the Council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He was also a trustee of the Shakespeare Globe Trust, and in 1998 was appointed Chairman of The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. In 1990, Sir Evelyn became the founding chairman of The European Association for Banking and Financial History in Frankfurt, Germany, a position he held until retiring in 2004, as was reported by Wikipedia. He was a board member of the Snowdon Trust, founded by the Earl of Snowdon, which provides grants and scholarships for students with disabilities, the report said.

During the Conservative government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, from 1979 to 1990, Rothschild helped fulfill her signature policy of privatization, selling state-owned industries and other assets to private companies, ostensibly to improve their productivity, increase competition, cut work forces, weaken trade unions and raise funds for a government beleaguered by strikes and a national recession, the NYT reported.

Rothschild’s home was at Ascott House, his family’s rambling manor and 3,200-acre estate in Buckinghamshire in England. He was a student at the distinguished Harrow boarding school and like many English children, he was sent to the United States during World War II, the NYT reported.

His first marriage, to Jeannette Bishop in 1966, ended in divorce in 1971, according to the NYT report. In 1973, he married Victoria Lou Schott. They had three children, Jessica, Anthony and David, and were divorced in 2000. The NYT report indicated that that same year he married Lynn Forester, an American lawyer and businesswoman who founded FirstMark Communications, a wireless broadband internet service in the United States and Europe. She had two sons, Benjamin and John, by a previous marriage to the New York City politician Andrew Stein, as was reported by the NYT.

Rothschild’s survivors include his wife and his children from his second marriage.

Rothschild’s net worth has been variously estimated at $3 billion to $20 billion and he retired as chairman of the London bank in 2003 and was succeeded by his cousin, Baron David René de Rothschild, chairman of the family’s French bank, in a restructuring that merged the two banks under Rothschilds

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