National Post (Latest Edition)
Humble beginnings to business empire
Barclay one of two billionaire brothers
Sir david Barclay, who died suddenly after a short illness aged 86, created with his twin, Sir Frederick, a business empire of hotels, shipping, retailing and media.
Identical in appearance and lifestyle, the Barclays operated as one, while avoiding personal publicity.
Once, replying to a request for an interview, david said: “It doesn’t appeal to us to boast to others of how clever we have been or how successful we are.”
They ventured into media ownership in 1992 and, among other purchases, in June 2004 struck a deal for us$1.65 billion for conrad Black’s Telegraph group, which included the chicago Sun-times, the Jerusalem Post, The Telegraph newspapers and the Spectator magazine.
david rowat Barclay and Frederick hugh Barclay were born in London on Oct. 27, 1934. Their early years were not easy. At nine, david and his brothers earned a few pennies looking after the bicycles of farmers going to market.
The twins left school at 14. From an early age david was obsessed with newspapers, gleaning a deep understanding of business, economics and politics.
By 1961 they had set up as real estate agents and had begun buying, selling and eventually redeveloping rundown boarding houses as small hotels.
They acquired some 20 larger hotels in a decade.
The deal that took them into a higher league was their takeover in 1983 of ellerman Lines, a shipping group combining brewing and other interests. They broke up the company and sold off its various bits at large profit, and did the same with the Gotaas-larsen line of LNG and Vlcc tankers.
In London the brothers operated from the ritz, which they acquired in 1995 — and where, in 2013, he gave his close friend Margaret Thatcher a suite for the last weeks of her life. They sold the hotel early in 2020.
The Barclays were knighted in 2000 in the first double ceremony of modern times.
In 2010 Sir david was made a papal knight by Pope Benedict XVI.
When he was 20, david married model Zoe Newton. They had three sons. After they divorced, he married reyna Oropeza, with whom he had another son. he had nine grandchildren.