Simon Halabi

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Simon Halabi
Born
Bassam Simon Halabi

August 1958 (age 60)
Syria
NationalityBritish
Spouse(s)Urte
ChildrenSamuel (d. 2003)
Jacob

Bassam Simon Halabi (Arabic: سيمون حلبي‎ born August 1958)[1] is a Syrian-born British businessman and property developer.

His wealth derived initially from his father, who was a successful businessman in Syria and backed his son in his early ventures.[2] Embarking on a series of speculative property ventures, Halabi amassed a sizeable fortune himself. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2007, he was ranked 14th richest person in Britain,[3] while the Forbes list of global billionaires listed him at no. 194 in 2007, with an estimated net worth of US$4.3billion.[4] In 2009, Forbes ranked him no. 224 with a reduced net worth of US$2.8 billion.[5]

Although he remains a private man, he is fond of conspicuous consumption, owning a large fleet of luxury cars including Bentleys and Rolls Royce Phantoms, as well as a 130-ft yacht.[6]

Downfall and bankruptcy[edit]

In late 2007 the sports gym chain Esporta, which he had purchased for £460m, was forced into administration, costing Halabi at least £120m of his own money, and damaging his relationship with his main creditors, Société Générale.[7]

In January 2008, Halabi sold his one-third stake in the flagship Shard development in London for £30m—a stake that had been valued at over £130m six months earlier.[8] Later that year the Mentmore Towers project, which Halabi had purchased in 1997 with a view to turning it into a six-star hotel, ran into problems. The grade II listed building was mothballed, with essential maintenance work remaining undone as the project architects sued Halabi for unpaid fees. In summer 2008 English Heritage ranked three of Halibi's assets as "Buildings at Risk".[9]

In June 2009, his group of property companies defaulted on $1.9 billion of bonds. The debts in question had been secured on nine London properties, which had fallen in value by up to 50% since the start of the credit crunch, leaving them in negative equity.[10] In August 2009 insolvency specialists MCR were appointed as liquidators of Buckingham Securities Holdings, Halabi's principal client advisory vehicle.[11]

By October 2009, Halabi's Anglo Swiss Holdings company began to liquidate assets including the attempted sale of Cambridge House in Piccadilly, in central London, previously the premises of the Naval and Military Club.[12] On 1 April 2010, he was declared bankrupt in the High Court in London.[13]

Halabi's Mentmore Towers development is still part of his property portfolio, although the scale of development for the property is much reduced and no longer includes the large extension with spa and conference facilities. Château Cantenac-Brown in the Bordeaux district of France was also to form part of the luxury hotel group linking the PM (Piccadilly / Mentmore) properties and including spa facilities.[citation needed]

Aviva Tower, part of Halabi's White Tower portfolio, was eventually sold for £288m in April 2011;[14] it had been purchased in 2003 for £260m.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Halabi is married to Lithuanian-born Urte, with two sons, Samuel and Jacob; Samuel died in August 2003 in a pool accident in France.[16]

Halabi was convicted of sexual assault in France in 1998. The attack occurred at his house in France, against a woman whom he had trapped and threatened to kill if she reported the crime. Though Halabi was handed a three-year prison sentence, suspended for five years, and placed on a sex offender list in France, he was able to continue his life and business dealings unchecked as he had been convicted under the name Mohammed Halabi instead of his actual name. While the conviction was shared with UK authorities under data sharing agreements in 2012, the crime was not linked to Halabi until 2017. [17]

In February 2015, he was accused of assaulting and racially abusing a binman in Hay's Mews, off London's Berkeley Square, after a refuse truck had blocked his Bentley outside Annabel's, allegedly calling him a "monkey" and a "peasant", and then shouting "I own this road, I can do what I want".[18][19] In December 2016, following a near-two year investigation and a week long trial at Southwark Crown Court, he was acquitted of racially aggravated assault.[20][21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Simon HALABI – Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". Government of the United Kingdom. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "The Times & The Sunday Times". The Times. 14 December 1916. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  4. ^ "#194 Simon Halabi". Forbes.com. 9 February 2007. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  5. ^ "#224 Simon Halabi – The World's Billionaires 2009". Forbes.com. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Leisure". The Times. Retrieved 14 December 2016. (subscription required)
  7. ^ Russell, Jonathan (2 September 2007). "Towering Simon Halabi faces shard times". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Construction and Property". The Times. Retrieved 14 December 2016. (subscription required)
  9. ^ [2][dead link]
  10. ^ "Terms of Service Violation". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  11. ^ Ruddick, Graham (25 August 2009). "Halabi's property advisory business in liquidation". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 August 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Property tycoon Simon Halabi bankrupt". The Daily Telegraph. 2 April 2010. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  14. ^ Ruddick, Graham. "Aviva's London HQ sold for £288m". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Halabi completes £260m Aviva Tower purchase - News - print - Property Week". archive.org. 15 May 2012. Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  16. ^ "News in brief". The Daily Telegraph. 25 September 2003. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  17. ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/04/billionaire-rapist-travelled-world-unchecked-blunder-uk-authorities/
  18. ^ Reporters, Telegraph (12 December 2016). "Businessman racially abused bin man when lorry blocked his Bentley outside Annabel's, court hears". Retrieved 21 April 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  19. ^ "Former billionaire claims he did not realise calling someone a 'black ****' was racist". Talkradio.co.uk. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Chris Daw QC secures acquittal for Shard developer in assault trial - Lincoln House Chambers". Lincolnhousechambers.com. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Chris Daw QC secures acquittal for Mayfair property tycoon on racially aggravated assault charge – Serjeants' Inn Chambers". Serjeantsinn.com. Retrieved 21 April 2018.