Gerald Ronson

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Gerald Ronson
Born Gerald Maurice Ronson
(1939-05-27) 27 May 1939 (age 78)
Paddington, London[1]
Residence Hampstead, London[2]
Nationality British
Occupation CEO of Heron International
Known for Heron International
Spouse(s) Dame Gail Ronson
Children 4

Gerald Maurice Ronson, CBE (born 27 May 1939)[4] is a business tycoon and philanthropist.


Aged 15, Ronson left school and joined his father in the family furniture business, named Heron after his father Henry. The company expanded into property development, at first with small residential projects, later with commercial and office properties too. By 1967 the company was active in seven European countries and fifty-two British municipalities. In the mid-1960s Ronson brought the first self-service petrol retail outlets to the United Kingdom.[5]

Heron International[edit]

By the early 1980s Heron was one of the largest private companies in the United Kingdom, with assets of over £1.5 billion. By the 1990s, it almost collapsed with debts of over £1 billion owed to 11,000 bondholders.[6] The company survived with loans from Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Craig McCaw, Oracle Corporation's founder, Larry Ellison, and others,[7] and went on to develop projects including Heron Tower and The Heron in the City of London and The Peak in London's Victoria.

Heron Tower, London

Ronson's more recent additional business ventures include Ronson Capital Partners, an investment firm he established to invest opportunistically in real estate assets in the UK;[8] and Rontec Investments, a consortium comprising Snax 24, Investec and Grovepoint Capital, created to acquire the assets of Total Oil UK.[9]

By 1989, he was listed by The Times as having a net worth of UK£500 million.[10]

The Ronson family suffered from the 1990s commercial property crash: "The Ronson family lost $1 billion of its own money in the property crash of the early 1990's," Gerald Ronson says. "The important thing was to rebuild."[11]

Criminal conviction and the "Guinness Four"[edit]

Ronson became notorious in the UK as one of the Guinness Four for his involvement in the Guinness share-trading fraud of the 1980s. He was convicted in August 1990 of one charge of conspiracy, two of false accounting, and one of theft, and was fined £5 million and given a one-year jail sentence, of which he served six months. In 2000 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the 1990 trial had been unfair.[12] An appeal to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, seeking to have the Human Rights Act 1998 applied retrospectively, failed in 2001.[13] A final appeal to the House of Lords (now the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom) failed in 2002 and therefore no further appeal was possible and the convictions remained upheld.[14]


Gerald Ronson is a philanthropist and long-time supporter of/donor to Jewish causes.[4] He is the Founding Chairman of the Jewish Community Security Trust,[15] Vice-President of the NSPCC[16] and President of JCoSS.[17]

Ronson has won City AM’s Personality of the Year Award in September 2011 and other awards.[18] In 2009, King Juan Carlos of Spain bestowed Gerald Ronson with the Encomienda de Numero of the Spanish Order of Civil Merit Decoration.[19] In the same year, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law from Northumbria University.[20]

Ronson was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for charitable services, notwithstanding his convictions.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Ronson is married to philanthropist and socialite Dame Gail Ronson. They have four daughters: Lisa, Amanda, Nicole and Hayley.[22] He is the uncle of producer Mark Ronson.[23]

When asked about his family and Jewish heritage in an interview with the Jewish Telegraph, Ronson responded: "I am a proud Jew [...] when I go back to when I was a young boy, nothing has changed and that's how I look at the Ronson family, involved in school building, whether it be Israel, the Jewish Leadership Council, Jewish Care or most of the major organisations I've been involved in". He wants his four daughters, nine grandchildren and eventual great-grandchildren to "understand who they are,[24] what they are, what their background is and what their responsibility is. I've given them the tools to be able to continue doing those things in their life which I believe will make them good people".[3]


  1. ^ Kay, William (1985). Tycoons: Where They Came from and How They Made It. Piatkus Books. p. 143. ISBN 0861883470. 
  2. ^ Lamden, Tim. "Philanthropist Dame Gail Ronson excited about Hampstead Garden Suburb return". Ham & High. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "FROM RICHES, TO A JAIL CELL AND BACK TO RICHES – THE AMAZING LIFE OF TYCOON GERALD RONSON". Jewish Telegraph. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Round, Simon. "Interview: Gerald Ronson". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  5. ^ "My First Million: Gerald Ronson". The Financial Times. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Hellier, David (2 April 1994). "Heron Group lurches deeper into crisis". The Independent. London. Retrieved 26 April 2016. 
  7. ^ "A Guy Named Gerald" 2007 Interview
  8. ^ Thomas, Daniel. "Ronson Sets Up Investment Group". Financial Times. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Goodley, Simon (21 June 2011). "Total Deal heralds comeback for veteran forecourt retailer Gerald Ronson". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Sunday Times Rich List 2013: Arsenal FC's billionaire co-owner Alisher Usmanov topples Lakshmi Mittal to take top spot 20 April 2013
  11. ^ Heron Chief Takes His Cue From Hollywood By SARA SEDDON KILBINGER, The Wall Street Journal,25 May 2005
  12. ^ CMISKP website
  13. ^ BBC news, 21 December 2001
  14. ^ House of Lords judgement in R v Lyons and others, given November 2002
  15. ^ Ronson, Gerald. "CST Represents all Jews". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "NSPCC: Our Vice Presidents". 
  17. ^ "JCoSS People". 
  18. ^ "Personality of the Year". City AM. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  19. ^ "Gerald Ronson awarded the Encomienda de Numero of the Spanish Order of Civil Merit Decoration". Building Design. 6 March 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  20. ^ "Honour for Leading UK Businessman". 22 July 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  21. ^ "No. 60009". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2011. p. 8. 
  22. ^ "'My father and I said we'd give it 12 months – six years later I'm still here'". The Telegraph. UK. 14 March 2004. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  23. ^ Kay, Richard (8 November 2010). "Heron empire hits new heights as businessman's fortunes change for the better". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  24. ^ Hamson, Liz (20 February 2015). "It's a family affair: The Gerald Ronson interview". Property Week. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 

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