Obituary: Brian Garraway
Friday 01 October 1993
BRIAN GARRAWAY had a long and distinguished career at BAT Industries, where he was deputy chairman from 1983 to 1992, and since January of this year he had been chairman of Lloyd's of London's Regulatory Board.
His qualities included physical courage, an agile financial brain and a warm sense of humour. A soft management touch he was not, as several investment bankers discovered to their cost, but he was widely liked and respected.
Born in 1931 and educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, where he was a keen classicist, Garraway qualified as a chartered accountant at a remarkably young age. Bored by his work in the Birmingham area, he joined BAT as a travelling auditor in 1955. After training, he spent three years, without once returning to Britain, in a veritable laundry list of places such as Switzerland, South Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, Rhodesia and Angola. He arrived in Rhodesia on the first day of the Hastings Banda emergency.
After a period in Britain, he set off again, this time to Chile and the Argentine. Garraway fell quite literally in love with Chile because it was where he met and married Jean Robinson, in 1961, thus bringing his time as a travelling auditor to an end, bachelor status being required on that particular balance sheet.
The married Garraways returned to England, Jean never having been there before, and Brian spent what was, by his own standards, a dull two years in the BAT finance department before being given the opportunity to shine in the Sudan.
He also played an important role in the purchase of Henri Wintermans, before placing himself on the BAT map by recovering the previously nationalised Indonesian business, under trying circumstances. One of the more obviously tricky moments which Garraway enjoyed recalling many years later was a discussion under a tax inspector's desk . . . while the odd shot was fired outside.
The late 1960s saw him back in Britain, involved in a number of diversification studies before becoming the finance director of Souza Cruz, BAT's subsidiary in Brazil. His time there encompassed the acquisition of a stake in Aracruz, now one of the world's leading suppliers of wood pulp from sustainable sources, and a project of which he was justifiably proud.
By 1979, he was on the Board of BAT Industries itself, having returned to Britain as finance director of the Tobacco Division in 1975. He proceeded to play a vital part in a remarkable decade for BAT, one which saw the group become the second largest European- based insurance operation. The acquisitions of Eagle Star, Allied Dunbar and Farmers were so successful that, by 1989, financial services and tobacco accounted for 80 per cent of BAT's profit.
But 1989 was a year to remember for other reasons. On 11 July Sir James Goldsmith launched a highly geared bid for BAT through a vehicle called Hoylake. It was a fitting end to the 1980s, with the air so thick with advisers that seats on Concorde were hard to find. Garraway applied himself to the 'war cabinet', with ferocious and utterly characteristic determination, playing a key part in the development of proposals to reshape the group through a radical programme of demergers and disposals.
It would have made a fitting conclusion to any career but for Garraway there was yet more to come. In quick succession, he had to rescue Allied Dunbar from management defections and Eagle Star from a management nightmare called mortgage indemnity. By now, Garraway had become such an integral part of the insurance landscape that it was only natural for him to be invited to become a deputy chairman of Lloyd's, in charge of the market's regulation, on his retirement from BAT last October.
His Lloyd's life, together with his non-executive roles at Burton and BPCC looked the ideal solution for an active period of part- time work but it was not to last long. He had looked forward to more cruises with Jean, and to much more time with his devoted family. He would also have seen more theatre and opera, while the publishing trade has lost an avid reader.
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