(born 14 March 1942) is a British businessman and property mogul with an estimated fortune of Â£2,300m placing him 31st in Sunday Times Rich List 2013
Whittaker is the Chairman of The Peel Group, a property investment that mainly invests in North West England. He is regarded as an astute businessman by the media and in the property industry quarters.
Although publicity-shy, he has been named as one of the most influential business leaders for Greater Manchester and the North West by the Manchester Evening News and was named the most influential northerner by Big Issue magazine in 2010 thanks to his large investments in North West England and wider afield in Northern England.
Whittaker was born to John and May Whittaker in Bury, Lancashire in 1942. He was educated at Ampleforth College, a Catholic boarding school in Yorkshire, and considered becoming a priest before deciding to join the family business, Peel Mills.
The Peel Group
In the 1980s he fought a bitter battle to take over the Manchester Ship Canal Company, out of which the Trafford Centre emerged.
Whittaker, 70, sold the 1.5m sq ft Trafford Centre to Capital Shopping Centres (now Intu Properties) in January 2011. Under the terms of the deal, which valued the Manchester scheme at Â£1.6 billion, his company Peel took shares in CSC worth Â£636m and he joined its board as deputy chairman. It attracts more than 30m visitors a year, which Whittaker attributes in part to the flamboyant baroque decoration, including one of the world's biggest chandeliers. 'It is the people's palace...the Dallas effect' he says. Whittaker who runs his empire from an office within the centre's giant dome, nearly became a Roman Catholic priest but instead followed his family into business. The Whittakers had been involved with textiles, quarrying and farming since the 1850s, though the young scion focused on property, including Peel textile mills, built in Bury to honour Sir Robert Peel. Peel like Whittaker was a native of the town. It embraces airports, ports, utilities and renewable energy and investment property. One big project currently underway is Ocean Gateway, a Â£50 billion housing and retail redevelopment on the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey. Whittaker hopes the Manchester development will become a Chinese business hub. He accompanied the Prime Minister on his trade mission to Beijing in 2010.
In 2010, his wealth doubled from Â£1.01 billion to Â£2.07 billion, mainly thanks to the Â£1.65 billion sale of the Trafford Centre.
Whittaker has been regarded as a publicity-shy businessman who rarely gives interviews. One such example of his astute business mind was convincing the BBC to reject three other sites across Manchester to move to MediaCityUK in Salford Quays. The presence of the BBC would then act as a magnet to attract indie production companies to Salford and The Peel Group would make money off the rent and lease agreements on the development.
Whittaker currently resides on the Isle of Man where he owns Billown Mansion.
Whittaker donated Â£1m to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and supports the children's medical research charity Sparks. The donation was partly attributed to the stillborn death of his granddaughter in 2003.
Source @ Wikipedia