Mark Warham, banker and mountaineer

Mark Warham
Mark Warham
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Mark Warham, who has died at 56 following a cancer diagnosis, was a City high-flyer and also a mountaineer who conquered the highest peaks in Europe and, eventually, Everest.

Born in Primley Park, Leeds, he was the youngest of four sons to Joe and Eileen Warham. Joe was coach of the rugby league team now known as Leeds Rhinos, which won the Championship in 1961 and 1969, and later the general manager of the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Company.

His son attended St Paul’s Primary and later St Thomas Aquinas Grammar – and it was there, at 12, that he was involved in an accident with a school bus which almost led to the loss of a leg. The limb was badly scarred and misshapen, and he was told he might not walk again.

But the scare served only as an incentive to drive him on.

He went up to Oxford, reading philosophy, politics and economics at St Catherine’s College, before embarking on a 35-year career in merchant banking with Schroder’s, Barclays and Rothschild’s, including a spell as head of the Takeover Panel in the City of London.

In 2000, he joined Morgan Stanley, rising to become head of its UK mergers and acquisitions practice and, later, chairman of UK Investment Banking. At Barclays he headed the Europe, Middle-East and Africa mergers business and at Rothschilds from 2014 he was an Executive Vice Chairman and Global Partner.

During his time at Morgan Stanley he was seconded for two years to be director general of the Takeover Panel, regulating all public merger activity in the UK. It was during his time there that the panel was given statutory powers.

But his love of sport was never far from the surface. At St. Catherine’s he had played in the first Oxford vs Cambridge rugby league fixture at Craven Cottage, London, for which he was awarded a half-blue.

He had also become an enthusiastic mountain climber, under the tutelage of his elder brothers, Peter and Paul, initially on the relatively gentle slopes of Almscliffe Crag, near Harrogate.

It wasn’t long before he was traversing Europe, North and South America, conquering Mt McKinley and Aconcagua, and Robert Swannell, his former boss at Schroders, recalled him requesting three months’ leave for an attempt on Everest.

He tried it twice. On the first attempt, he was within reach of the summit when he was hit by pulmonary edema, a condition caused by excess fluid in the lings, and he had to make his way back down. On the second go, he made it to the top.

The metaphor of his life as a climber and a banker was, said Mr Swannell, obvious. “He was the only banker I know to have reached the summit of Everest. It is no surprise he reached the pinnacle in banking, too. The same values applied in both aspects of his life,” he said.

Additionally a keen ornithologist and wildlife photographer, he is survived by his wife Olivia and daughters Francesca, Eleanor and Anna.