Jeffrey Maurice Sterling, Baron Sterling of Plaistow (b. 1934) is a British businessman and Conservative peer, and the Life President of P&O Cruises which he built into a huge empire over a 22 year period.
Jeffrey was born in 1934 and educated at Reigate Grammar School, studying violin at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music in London. He did National Service in the Royal Air Force, before embarking on a career on the London Stock Exchange. From 1982–1990, he was special adviser to successive Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry, and was involved in the privatisation programme during Margaret Thatcher’s Government. He joined the board of the shipping line P&O as a non-executive director in 1980, and was Executive Chairman from 1983–2005 after merging P&O with his property firm, Sterling Guarantee Trust.
In its 1990s heyday, P&O had 11 divisions across 100 countries, and owned ferries, ports, cruise and cargo ships, the Bovis construction arm and Olympia’s exhibition centre. The empire was eventually broken up by fund managers, including a £3.9 billion sale of the ports arm to Dubai’s DP World. Following his departure from P&O, Jeffrey brokered a 2007 deal with All Leisure Holidays, operator of cruise company Voyages of Discovery, to purchase the brand Swan Hellenic. Together they acquired the cruise ship Explorer 2, to be renamed Minerva 1, and Swan Hellenic began its new summer season in 2008 with Lord Sterling remaining as Chairman.
Jeffrey was appointed CBE in 1977 and was knighted in 1985 for public services and services to industry. He was created a life peer in Margaret Thatcher’s resignation honours list in 1990. In 2002 he served as Chairman of the Golden Jubilee Weekend Trust, in commemoration of The Queen's reign of 50 years as sovereign.
Jeffrey was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2006