Obituary: Rupert Nicholson

In 1971 Rolls-Royce collapsed with massive debts, threatening the jobs of 80,000 workers. Rupert Nicholson, a partner with Peat Marwick Mitchell, now KPMG, and widely regarded as the best insolvency practitioner of his time, was brought in to salvage the organisation.

The receivership was to pave the way for the modern style of insolvency.

As Roger Oldfield, a senior insolvency partner at KPMG who worked with Nicholson on Rolls-Royce, said: ‘It was the ultimate corporate restructuring – a CVA before CVAs were invented.’

The receivership achieved gross realisations of #350m, the equivalent of #3bn today.

Nicholson not only dealt with the 80,000 employees, none of whom lost their jobs, but also 80,000 shareholders who received an eventual pay-out of 64.5p per share.

Nicholson successfully sold the aero-engine division of the business to the government in May 1971 and Rolls-Royce Motors was floated on the London stock exchange in 1973.

He was described as a very self-effacing and modest man.

Nicholson died on 15 December 2000.

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