John Marden, one of the last taipans, has died aged 80 at his home in Shek O. Marden's exit in 1985 as chairman of the family firm, Wheelock Marden, owner of Lane Crawford, started one of the bitterest takeover battles of the decade. It resulted in one of the pillars of the British establishment coming under the control of the late shipping magnate Sir Yue-kong Pao, having defeated Malaysian Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat in what was described at the time as 'a battle for the corporate soul of Hong Kong'. Former acting governor Sir David Akers-Jones last night described Marden as 'the taipan among the taipans'. 'The Marden Foundation, which he formed with his wife, Anne, has made a great contribution in charity work for Hong Kong,' Sir David said. Marden, son of George Marden, a former Chinese Maritime Customs officer and businessman, was educated in Shanghai and England, graduating from Cambridge in economics and law. Marden joined his father's firm in 1946 as a trainee on the secretarial and shipping division, before transferring to the insurance side. He was made a director of the conglomerate, whose interests ranged from property and retailing to insurance and aviation, in 1952. In 1959 Marden succeeded his father, George, to the chairmanship of Wheelock Marden. He became one of the small group of taipans in whom British commercial power was vested, sitting on the boards of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Dairy Farm, the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and Hongkong Electric, among many others. Devoted supporters of charity, John and Anne Marden helped to set up a string of pre-vocational schools. He served as a justice of the peace and was awarded the CBE in 1976. He had one son and three daughters.