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Sir Philip Shelbourne (1924-1984)

Philip Shelbourne was a senior member of the team built up by the Rothschild family in the 1960s to transform NM Rothschild and Sons from a private family business into a player in the much more public arena involving corporate finance and takeovers and mergers.

Philip Shelbourne started his City career when he gave up the Bar to take up a partnership at N M Rothschild in 1962; at 38 he became only the third non-member of the Rothschild fmaily to become a partner. He developed close relationships with a number of leading businessmen either through providing advice on takeovers or through contribution as a member of their boards. Early successes he masterminded included acting for the Showering family in their bid for IDV and the subsequent merger of their brewing business into Allied Breweries. In 1971, he led an early foray into privatisation - for which the name N M Rothschild was to become so closely associated - with the  Industrial Reorganisation Corporation.

Standing down as a Rothschild Partner in 1970, in 1971 Shelbourne was asked by the Drayton Group to become chief executive to develop Drayton as a merchant bank. After four years he appreciated that the future of the small merchant bank with a general portfolio of business was limited and he negotiated its sale to the Midland Bank, who then merged it with their own merchant bank Samuel Montagu with Shelbourne taking over as executive chairman in 1974. By this time he had moved away from the detailed work of leading for his clients in takeover transactions but his advice was continually sought not only by the British government at the highest level but also by a wide range of businessmen both within the UK and outside. In 1980 he was asked by the Government to take on the chairmanship of BNOC part of which in due course became Britoil.

He was a lifelong bachelor, his great interest being antiques, the opera and his dogs. In 1986 he purchased a Queen Anne House in the Close in Salisbury which for many years had been the home of the historian Sir Arthur Bryant. He died in 1984 after a period of ill-health.

Business papers of Sir Philip Shelbourne


Most NMR files relating to Sir Philip Shelbourne were destroyed as part of routine records management within the business. A very few NMR files of Sir Philip Shelbourne will be found in Partners' Room, Private files, 60 series. These files are currently closed to researchers.