25 May 2003 – Sunday Times
The elusive brothers, David and Simon, have funded the bid through Investors in Private Equity (IPE), a Paris-based private-equity firm.
Ermewa, the world’s second-largest provider of tank container rentals and specialist railcars, was put up for sale after the death of its founder two years ago.
SNCF Participations, the investment arm of the state-owned French railway group, has bought a 49.6% stake in Ermewa. The Reuben brothers have acquired the other 50.4%.
Ermewa is based in Geneva and operates in 20 countries, employing 750 people and has sales of €400m (£290m). It provides rail-transport services to a range of industries, including chemicals, petroleum and gas, cosmetics, foodstuff and steel.
The acquisition is in line with the Reuben brothers’ interest in European asset-based business investments. But it is otherwise an unusual addition to their portfolio, which mostly consists of property in central London.
Last year they bought Millbank Tower, the former home of the Labour party in London, for £120m, as well as a prime site in Mayfair. They have now set their sights on the John Lewis department-store headquarters, which they want to buy for £135m.
The brothers were placed fifth in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated wealth of £2.1 billion.