|Born||Bassam Simon Halabi
August 1958 (age 59)
|Children||Samuel (d. 2003)
His wealth derived initially from his father, who was a successful businessman in Syria and backed his son in his early ventures. Embarking on a series of speculative property ventures, Simon amassed a sizeable fortune himself. In the Sunday Times Rich List 2007, he was ranked 14th richest person in Britain, while the Forbes list of global billionaires listed him at no. 194 in 2007, with an estimated net worth of US$4.3billion. In 2009, Forbes ranked him no. 224 with a reduced net worth of US$2.8 billion.
Downfall and bankruptcy
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.
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. 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".
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. In August 2009 insolvency specialists MCR were appointed as liquidators of Buckingham Securities Holdings, Halabi's principal client advisory vehicle.
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.
His 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.
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