Finance: Two American billionaire families are using Brexit to build a London property empire

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FirethornTrust, a property investment firm run by two US billionaire families, is looking to invest heavily in London's Canary Wharf district.

  • FirethornTrust, a property investment firm run by two US billionaire families, is looking to invest heavily in London property.
  • The firm, run in tandem by two families, the Stephens and the Van Tuyls, is bucking the trend of delayed investments post-Brexit.
  • "Brexit in its current status causes uncertainty. The uncertainty causes volatility and the volatility causes opportunity," Peter Maher, one of the firm's founders, told Bloomberg.

Uncertainties surrounding Brexit has for the most part slowed the amount of money flowing into the UK —companies are putting projects on hold, staff are being relocated from London to other European business hubs, and London's role as a dominant financial center is under threat.

A pair of billionaire American families, however, is seizing on what they see as an opportunity.

According to Bloomberg, the FirethornTrust — a firm run in tandem by two families, the Stephens and the Van Tuyls — is looking to invest heavily in the London property market in the coming years amid potentially volatile, uncertain market conditions.

"Brexit in its current status causes uncertainty," Peter Mather, one of the FirethornTrust's founding partners told Bloomberg. "The uncertainty causes volatility, and the volatility causes opportunity."

The Stephens family made its money through the Arkansas-based Stephens Inc, one of the largest privately run investment banks in the US, while the Van Tuyls entered the ranks of billionaires after selling their auto dealership business to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in 2014.

The trust, which was reportedly started in September with an injection of £200 million ($260 million), made its first investment in London's Canary Wharf district — home to the UK bases of investment banks such as JPMorgan, HSBC, Barclays, and Citigroup, as well as many major law firms.

It plans to turn the site, currently known as Quay House, into a skyscraping luxury hotel to serve bankers visiting Canary Wharf on business. The site cost the firm £26 million ($34 million).

“South Quay is a highly desirable part of London and is a perfect first acquisition for FirethornTrust as we look to build a long-term and diverse portfolio," Maher said at the time of the acquisition in October.

You can read Bloomberg's whole story here.

Source: Pluse ng

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