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2017-01-doc5 Passing of Stephen Adamson

With great sadness I inform about the death of Stephen Adamson CBE. He is an insolvency veteran from England, but with global experience. See below, his obituary from Global Restructuring Review of 10 January 2017. I learned he died in October last year. In the 90s I was a young partner of Ernst & Young (EY now) and I remember with fondness, that I learned from Stephan when listening to experiences with Olympia & York, his insights when advising in Barings, his visions in overseeing the growth of an international organisation and his pragmatic approach in establishing the first global insolvency law training. This resulted in the now Global Practice Fellowship course, with its first meeting in 2008 in Leiden University and expanding succesfully eversince. The art of the possible, ambassador for cross-border confirmation, genuine collegiality in cross-border practice. These were Stephen’s marks. My condolences go to his family.

GRR 10 January 2017

Stephen Adamson, a former insolvency practitioner at Ernst & Young in London, who worked on the turnaround of many prominent British brands including newspaper publisher The Mirror Group and Tottenham Hotspur football club, has died aged 74. Described by colleagues as a “leading light” in the British insolvency community, Adamson spent three decades with Ernst & Young in London, working on some of the UK’s most significant restructurings. As well as helping to rescue Spurs and The Mirror, he advised the administrators of British merchant bank Barings Bank and was retained by Eurotunnel during its restructuring.

Adamson specialised in restructuring in 1966 after training and qualifying with accountancy firm Thomson McLintock & Co in the City. In 1976 he joined Arthur Young as principal manager of its London Insolvency department, becoming partner of the firm which would eventually become Ernst & Young in 1978. With EY, he worked as a joint administrator of UK financial services company British & Commonwealth Holdings in 1990, the largest corporate collapse the nation had seen up to that point. He also acted as the lead administrator of Olympia & York Canary Wharf, successfully driving the company through a £1.1 billion restructure in 1992.

An active member of national and global insolvency organisations, Adamson became a member of the Insolvency Practitioners Association in 1978 and was president of the association in 1989. During his presidency, he helped to form the Society of Practitioners of Insolvency, a global organisation of business recovery professionals that would eventually change its name to R3. Also a prominent member of INSOL International for over 15 years, Adamson was president of the organisation from 1993 to 1995.

He chaired the organising committee for INSOL’s Sixth Quadrennial Worldwide Congress London in 2001, and became the sixth recipient of the organisation’s prestigious Scroll of Honour in 2005, which is an award given to INSOL members marking a significant contribution to the insolvency industry. He was appointed CBE by the Queen in her 1999 Birthday Honours for services to the insolvency profession.

Beyond insolvency and restructuring, Adamson enjoyed fly fishing, golf, watching rugby and theatre, and doing the Times crossword. He was also a member of London’s Oriental club. Speaking with GRR, Adamson’s successor as INSOL president, Neil Cooper, a former partner at restructuring advisory firm Zolfo Cooper and consultant to the World Bank, described him as “highly influential” with an “immense vision” for what INSOL would ultimately become.

Cooper tells GRR that Adamson did much of the heavy work building the foundations of the organisation, using his ability to form friendships with counterparts in other nations and bringing them into INSOL. “Stephen was a very, very dear friend,” says Cooper. “He had a great power of persuasion and a profound ability to work with people. He had a lighter side, and certainly knew how to let his hair down, but was never frivolous.” “In this industry it’s important we work with human beings, and that’s just what Stephen was,” he adds, noting that he was a “tremendous family man respecting traditional values”.

Adamson is survived by his wife Liz, his three sons Neil, Stuart and Ross, and six grandchildren.