07 November 2008 – PROPERTY COMMUNITY.COM
Many people may not be aware of David and Simon Reuben as they very rarely give interviews to the press or any media. However since moving to the UK with literally nothing the brothers have amassed a fortune which is conservatively valued at £4 billion. We have gathered what information we could and hereby give a rundown of the life and times of David and Simon Reuben and how they came to UK with literally nothing and amassed £4 billion fortune without many people actually being aware of who they are.
David and Simon the early years
The Reuben brothers were born in Bombay to Jewish parents of Iranian dissent and when their parents separated they moved to London in their early teens with their mother and grandmother. Initially they had separate careers with David becoming a metal trader and Simon becoming involved in the carpet industry however this was also the time when they found the property market which was to literally take over their lives in later years.
Trans World Group
The Reuben brothers were one of the first serious investors from the West to spot the opportunities in Russia as capitalism erupted from the mountain of communism. Very quickly their Trans World group became the third largest metal producer in the world after they bought up more than half of Russia’s aluminium industry. While detailed facts are fairly thin on the ground with regards to the Russian exploits the influential Fortune magazine estimates that the Rubens made over £1.5 billion from their brief encounter in Russia. It was around this time that they came into contact with some of Russia’s more unconventional business leaders with the likes of Roman Abramovich and a whole host of controversial and secretive figures.
The move into property
By early 2000 the Russian business environment had turned sour for many western investors and it was at this point that they moved their interests to the UK market and property in particular. With a rumoured war chest of around £1.5 billion to play with they soon set up a property investment group which had no debt, liquid assets and a variety of bonds. This very quickly became the hallmark of the Rubens business strategy where debt is very rare which ensures that they are never forced sellers of their properties.
There are a number of substantial investments which the Rubens have made since they hit the big time and we hereby list a rundown of their more prominent investments:-
The brothers acquired a number of shopping centres in a deal valued at £310 million in a joint investment with West Coast Capital and Bank of Scotland. This was one of the larger acquisitions in the early days but was literally just a taste things of things to come as their ventures got larger and larger and their presence in the UK property market began to flourish.
A joint venture again with West Coast capital, Bank of Scotland and also Prestbury brought about the acquisition of 220 pubs at a cost of £500 million. This was in effect a sale and lease back agreement with the properties leased back to a company called Spirit for 30 years.
As the brothers continued to widen their net they became involved in the management buyout of property giant Chelsfield where their £108 million investment in the now private business gave them a 35% stake.
In a move which was to make the Rubens brothers the largest pub estate tenants in the country they acquired the Wellington Pub Company from entrepreneur Hugh Osmond for an undisclosed fee. To this day they still remain the largest investors in the pub property market.
In what was a very busy year for the Rubens they began the year with a sale and lease back agreement and the acquisition of 135 Travelodge properties with a value of £405 million. Again, we started to see a definite trend in their investments in the sale and lease back market.
This was a month which they acquired a 29.5% stake in Northeast based nightclub company Ultimate Leisure Group where their expertise in the property market could be further utilised for the benefit of all involved.
At various stages throughout 2005 the brothers also acquired property investments in Romania, Germany, France, Gibraltar as well as more shopping centres in the UK. While none of these individual acquisitions were large in size by themselves collectively they were worth hundreds of millions of pounds.
As the pace of investment continued to grow the main highlight of 2006 was the £1.2 billion acquisition of housebuilder McCarthy and Stone which was acquired with the help of Bank of Scotland and West Coast Capital.
We also saw the acquisition of a number of retail outlets, German investments, and an increase in the brother’s exposure to Asia and the Pacific. Then there was a move into the data centres market with a number of acquisitions in the UK, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Singapore and Australia as their network of businesses continued to mushroom.
We saw Simon and David underwrite a £25 million rights issue by Ultimate Leisure Group as it became more obvious that the brothers properly expertise were coming to the fore and the group was looking to expand.
This was the month when they acquired Northern Racing for £90 million which opened a whole new field of property investment with the introduction of nine racecourses in the UK. This is something which the brothers have since complemented with a substantial minority stake in the U.K.’s main quoted racecourse owner Arena Leisure.
In July we saw the acquisition of Oxford airport and while no figures were released for this purchase it did actually fit in with the investment into Silverjet, one of the U.K.’s leading business class airlines. However the acquisition of the Silverjet stake proved to be one of their few public failures with the much-publicised collapse of the group earlier this year.
Work has begun on the Merchant Square development at Paddington which will in due course provide over 2,000,000 ft.² of office space, residential units, as well as hotel and leisure facilities in one of the more sought-after areas of London.
While the number of transactions throughout 2008 has slowed somewhat do not expect the Rubens brothers to sit back and watch bargains pass them by as they have cash, have the expertise and they certainly have the contacts.
While the Rubens brothers have made mistakes along the way, unlike so many in the property market they have learned from their mistakes and used them into the future. They have literally created a £4 billion empire from zero which shows that with work, investment and an acquired expertise in your chosen field anything is possible.