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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Europe's wealthiest royal now among the world's richest 500

In our bi-weekly roundup of what the world's billionaires are up to, Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein enters a new level of wealth and Joan Tisch, the matriarch of Loews, dies at 90

Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein came to the throne in 1989 following his father's death. Alexander Klein / AFP
Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein came to the throne in 1989 following his father's death. Alexander Klein / AFP

Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein

Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein lives in a castle perched on a cliffside in the Alpine principality that bears his name. He’s known as "Your Serene Highness" to the country’s 38,000 citizens, and he owns a collection of Renaissance masterpieces, as well as two palaces in Vienna.

He’s also now one of the world’s 500 richest people, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The prince controls a dynastic fortune that originated during the Crusades and is rooted in LGT Group, a private bank that caters to the ultra-rich worldwide. LGT’s value has jumped 64 per cent this year, more than quadruple the gain of the Euro Stoxx Banks Index, thanks in part to a 10 per cent increase in net assets. The surge added $1.7 billion to von Liechtenstein’s net worth, lifting him earlier this month to No.444. He currently sits at to No. 446 on the Bloomberg index with $4.35bn.

The fortune is the oldest on the index and originated with land holdings acquired in the 12th century that at one point were spread across what’s now Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. They’ve since been whittled down to mainly timberland and farmland in Austria and are valued by the index at less than $100 million, a fraction of the land wealth owned by other noble families who, while not royal, held on to property acquired centuries ago.

Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster, controls a $12.9bn fortune derived from hundreds of acres of London land his family has owned since 1677. Earl Cadogan, who’s worth $7.5bn, oversees a huge plot of central London acreage that has been in his family since 1753.

The only other royal valued by the Bloomberg index, Queen Elizabeth II, has a personal fortune of about $380m - less than 1/10th the size of Hans-Adam’s - as most of the monarchy’s assets are held in trust for the British people.

LGT claims to be the biggest bank owned by an “entrepreneurial family” and ended 2016 with 152.1bn Swiss francs ($153.8bn ) under management, up from 129.3 billion francs a year earlier.

The prince assumed the throne after his father’s death in 1989, becoming the leader of one of the world’s oldest noble families. After graduating from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, he was tasked by his father with reorganising the family empire, which was in shambles thanks to expropriations during World War II and mismanagement. He shut down unprofitable divisions and narrowed its client focus to just institutions, as well as multimillionaires and billionaires.

Bill Ackman is the chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management. Christopher Goodney / Bloomberg
Bill Ackman is the chief executive of Pershing Square Capital Management. Christopher Goodney / Bloomberg

Bill Ackman

Bill Ackman’s credibility has sunk to a new low.

The American billionaire’s investment firm lost $4bn on a drug company. Its stake in a burrito maker went south and Mr Ackman was forced to shift strategy on Herbalife, which hasn’t tanked like he bet it would.

The latest setback is Automatic Data Processing (ADP_. Shareholders rejected the three board candidates put forth by Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, including Mr Ackman, the company said. Instead, they handed victories to chief executiveCarlos Rodriguez, who during the proxy campaign called Mr Ackman “a spoiled brat” and accused him of negotiating like “a used-car salesman.”

ADP said Pershing’s candidates each received support from the holders of less than 20 per cent of outstanding shares and less than 25 per cent of the shares voted at the company’s annual general meeting Tuesday. Even though Ackman said he received about 31 per cent of the votes cast, all 10 candidates favoured by management won.

“That’s really shocking,” said Kai Liekefett, partner and head of shareholder activism at Vinson & Elkins, who usually represents companies defending themselves against activist investors. “That might spell the end of Pershing Square and Bill Ackman as we know it. He has had a really difficult run over the last couple of years.”

Mr Ackman was looking for some good news after the crushing loss on Valeant Pharmaceuticals International and the Chipotle Mexican Grill Isetback. While insisting he remains confident about his wager against Herbalife, Mr Ackman said earlier this month that he’s changed his investment from shorting the stock into put options to head off further losses if the shares keep rising.

Mr Ackman has said he intends to be a long-term holder of ADP regardless of the final outcome, and that he would be willing to wage another proxy fight next year if the company doesn’t dramatically improve its operations over the next 12 months.

“Here’s to hoping that the company delivers and we don’t need to run for election next year,” Mr Ackman said at the shareholder meeting Tuesday. “Nothing could make me happier than seeing Carlos and the board succeed in meeting and exceeding their commitments. The bottom line is we will do everything we can to help.”

Joan Tisch died earlier this month at the age of 90.  (Mark Von Holden / Getty Images
Joan Tisch died earlier this month at the age of 90. (Mark Von Holden / Getty Images

Joan Tisch

Joan Tisch, a billionaire matriarch of the family that co-founded Loews Corporation and co-owns the New York Giants football team, has died at the age of 90.

She died earlier this month after a brief illness, according to the Giants website. No cause was given.

With a net worth of $4.5bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Ms Tisch was one of America’s richest women. The 2005 death of her husband, Robert, and the 2003 death of his brother and business partner, Laurence, left her and her sister-in-law, Wilma “Billie” Tisch, overseeing a multibillion-dollar fortune.

Their husbands turned Loews, a theatre chain when they bought it in 1959, into a holding company with hotels, energy companies and insurer CNA Financial Corp. Its principal units today include CNA, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP and Loews Hotels & Resorts. Loews spun off Lorillard., maker of Newport cigarettes, in 2008, after owning it for more than 30 years.

Joan Tisch had held a 6 per cent stake in the company.

Her husband owned half of the Giants football team from 1991 until his death. That share is now owned by their three children - Steven Tisch, a film producer and chairman of the team; Jonathan Tisch, who runs Loews with two cousins, James and Andrew Tisch; and Laurie Tisch, who has helped guide New York City cultural institutions including the Center for Arts Education, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.

Following her husband’s death from a rare form of brain cancer, Joan Tisch donated $10m to Duke University Medical Center to create the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumour Centre.

She was a longtime board member at 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, which presents musical and literary events through its Tisch Center for the Arts.

Ms Tisch was born Joan Hyman was born July 14, 1927, the daughter of N. Howard Hyman and his wife, Mae, according to US Census records.

Her father was a Manhattan dentist who helped disabled war veterans attend theatre and sporting events. He persuaded Jack Mara, then president of the Giants, to donate 400 seats for each home game to disabled fans and their companions.

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 7, 2016 shows President of Japan's mobile carrier Soft Bank Group Masayoshi Son speaking at a press conference in Tokyo. 
SoftBank said November 7, 2017 its net profit for the first half of the fiscal year plunged after the previous year's sale of a game development business, but operating profit surged on brisk sales for its US telecom unit.
 / AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 7, 2016 shows President of Japan's mobile carrier Soft Bank Group Masayoshi Son speaking at a press conference in Tokyo. SoftBank said November 7, 2017 its net profit for the first half of the fiscal year plunged after the previous year's sale of a game development business, but operating profit surged on brisk sales for its US telecom unit. / AFP PHOTO / TORU YAMANAKA

Masayoshi Son

Masayoshi Son, celebrated Japanese dealmaker, just negotiated himself into a corner.

Mr Son’s SoftBank Group has ended talks to combine its Sprint with T-Mobile US, a merger that would have united the third- and fourth-largest wireless operators in the US. In the end, the 60-year-old billionaire balked at the idea of giving up control over the company he sees as central to his vision of the future.

The harsh reality for Mr Son now is that Sprint can’t make it on its own. The Overland Park, Kansas-based company hasn’t had a profitable year in a decade and carries a debt load of $38bn. About half of that is coming due in the next four years, just as Sprint will have to invest billions in next-generation wireless technology to compete with larger rivals.

It’s a dilemma that will test the Japanese billionaire’s dealmaking skills - and willpower. He needs to pull off a longshot transaction with another partner to get Sprint back on solid ground - or dig into his own corporate pocketbook to pay for its liabilities, along with network investments that analysts project at about $25bn through 2021.

Sprint and T-Mobile jointly announced the decision to end talks earlier this month. Ultimately, Mr Son saw giving up full control of Sprint as antithetical to his view of technology’s future. He’s invested billions in the past two years on the idea that smartphones, cars, roads, appliances and humans themselves will be connected through the internet, generating invaluable data to be analysed with artificial intelligence and machine learning.

He sees a realisation of the singularity, where people live with technology integrated in their bodies, sooner than most people think. Wireless and satellite services are central to bringing that all together.