Sir Nigel Broackes, 65, the former chairman of the engineering conglomerate Trafalgar House and the man who began the rejuvenation of London's Docklands district, died here Sept. 28. The cause of death was not reported.
Using a legacy from his grandfather, Sir Nigel dabbled in property development, initially with little success. But he used his last asset, a small apartment block, to gain control of a new company, Trafalgar House, and built it into a world leader in technology-based engineering services and international construction. He served first as managing director, then as chairman from 1969 to 1992. He was knighted in 1984.
Today, Trafalgar House has annual sales of more than $4 billion, has 28,000 employees and owns the Cunard cruise line and London's Ritz Hotel.
Handsome and self-assured, Sir Nigel was a brilliant strategist who was happy to delegate day-to-day running of the group to his partner, Victor Matthews, a former builder and later Lord Matthews.
The pair had a flair for turning around the fortunes of great British institutions, including The Ritz, which they bought for less than $3.2 million at current rates in 1975; 15 years later it was worth 70 times that.
In 1977, Trafalgar House took over the ailing Express Newspapers, publisher of the Express and Sunday Express. The group recovered, and five years later was floated as a separate company, Fleet Holdings, with Matthews as chairman.
In 1979, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher appointed Sir Nigel to chair the new London Docklands Development Corporation, and he began to regenerate London's abandoned docks. When he left five years later, the district was filled with upscale new homes and businesses, and he had devised plans for the local City Airport and the Docklands Light Railway.
In 1983, he made an abortive bid for Cunard's great rival, Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation. Subsequent takeovers--including John Brown, builders of the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship for Cunard--were not a great success.
In 1992, just after the QE2 ran aground, Hong Kong Land took a 15 percent stake in the company and removed Sir Nigel from the board, ending his business career.