Sage Investment Advice From Exhausted Real Estate Billionaire Jeff Greene

Jeff Greene started investing in real estate as a side hustle in college and survived a downturn in the 1990s before making his first billion betting against the housing market in 2008. He spoke with Forbes about how he’s managing his investments ahead of a potential recession.

By Giacomo Tognini, Forbes Staff

As a child growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts, Jeff Greene shoveled snow and worked an 86-house paper route for the local newspaper. In college at Johns Hopkins, he worked part-time jobs ranging from teaching Hebrew to checking IDs outside the library. To pay his way through Harvard Business School, he traveled the country as a circus promoter—money that he later invested into three-bedroom houses in a town near Boston, his first foray into real estate.

Disaster struck with the real estate crash in the early 1990s, but Greene managed to scrape by. Then, in 2006, he made an audacious bet against the housing market, buying credit default swaps on subprime mortgage-backed bonds. The ensuing collapse earned him a windfall of $800 million, which he plowed into prime property in Palm Beach. It also made him a billionaire: Forbes now estimates his fortune at $7.5 billion, much of it concentrated in South Florida, Los Angeles and New York.

Forbes spoke with Greene about his knack for surviving crises and his risk-averse approach to investing.

Forbes: How did you get your first start in investing?

Jeff Greene: The way I got into real estate was kind of by accident. I was accepted to Harvard Business School in the spring of 1977, and then I needed a place to live and I wanted to move into Soldiers Field apartments, which was a beautiful modern complex. I’d already been out of college almost three years, I didn’t want to live in a dorm and I didn’t get into that apartment, it was full. So a guy who I’d gone to Johns Hopkins with, I asked him, “what do you do?” He’d gone to Harvard a year before me. He said, “Well, what I did is I bought an old three-family house out in Somerville, the next town to Cambridge. And you can buy one and you can live in one of those, rent out the other two and it’ll probably cover all your costs. You get a mortgage for 80%, so you’ll live rent free for two years and get your money back so you won’t have any rent.”

So I did that. I bought one of these three family houses, and I had worked after college and made $100,000 as a circus promoter. So this house was $37,000 with $7,000 down. I got accepted to the apartment complex, but I thought, “I already bought the house, so maybe I’ll rent out all three.” So I ended up thinking, “Wow, I’m making a 30% return, I’ve got to get more of these.” By the time I finished at Harvard Business School, I had 18 properties in this little town, Somerville, and the markets went way up. And my $100,000 cash was already a $1 million net worth. I was not even 25 and I was suddenly in real estate.

Forbes: How would you say your investment strategy has changed or evolved over the years? What’s your strategy like today?

Greene: Well, it changes as you go through the cycle of life. Starting out, I made my first $100,000 and then my first million. Then you think, “I’d like to make another million or $10 million, then $100 million.” You want to keep buying and building and growing. Now I’m 68 years old, so [my goal is] preservation of capital. The more the better, but I don’t really need to make more money. I was very careful when rates were low to lock in my rates, so I don’t have too much debt. Even the debt I have, it’s 90% locked in at lower rates.

I have five projects going on, but it’s really too much for me. I’m exhausted and I don’t like the workload, even though I know they’re good projects. Where you are in your life, more than anything, dictates how much risk you’re willing to take, how much work you want to have, and everyone’s different. I got married later and I have three young kids, so I want to spend time with my kids while they’re still young enough to enjoy it. Coming out of the financial crisis, honestly, I could have had a net worth three times what I have, because I didn’t leverage myself. I bought all these properties, I didn’t build on them. I just kept the land. I could have gone crazy. And I knew that I was giving up a lot of opportunities, but I just wasn’t that motivated for the workload or to build a bigger organization or to take the financial risk. When I was in my thirties, I wanted to conquer the world. Now I’m in my sixties, and I want to still be active and productive and make money, but I’m not willing to take risks like I was.

I had a big crash in the early ‘90s. My net worth became negative and it was a real eye-opener for me. Truthfully, from my first newspaper delivery route and shoveling snow and mowing lawns to where I was in 1991, it was a straight ride up. And then all of a sudden I wake up and my net worth is negative, and I’m fighting lawsuits. So I learned in that period, don’t be leveraged. Be prepared for slowdowns.

Forbes: We’ve talked about your strategy in the context of real estate. When you’re looking at your stock portfolio, bonds, alternative investments, is your strategy also conservative at the moment?

Greene: I’ve got a fair amount of treasuries. I’ve staggered one month and three month and six months treasuries, and I’m making five percent-ish. We’re in the Giving Pledge with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, and you listen to [Buffett]. I’ve spent some time with him and I like a lot of the things he says. He’s very wise, that’s why he’s considered such a sage. Things like, “I’d rather buy a great company at a fair price than a fair company at a great price.”

And it’s the same thing [with real estate.] What do I want to own? I want to own great buildings, great companies. A great building is one that has stable, predictable cash flow, not a lot of volatility, that has good long-term prospects because of where it’s located, how it’s built, what it is, and it’s the same with stocks. I own some core stocks, Google and Apple and Meta. And they’ve had their ups and downs, but generally I have core holdings that I own, and you don’t pay attention to the noise of the markets. Those are the kinds of long-term assets. It’s the same with some of the properties that we own. We own some amazing properties around the country, some I’ve had for 30-plus years.

Forbes: Are there any investments that you consider your greatest triumphs? And others that were disappointments, or that you would rather have done differently?

Greene: I’m building these two towers that I’m finishing in West Palm Beach, [called] One West Palm. The market exploded out from under me. I never would’ve predicted that South Florida, during the pandemic, would have had this enormous inward migration. Rents doubled in the last five years, and demand for everything has gone through the roof and everyone’s moving here. It’s slowing a little bit now, but it’s been a big boom. That will be a successful project.

One thing I learned long ago is—and I unfortunately have not followed it as well as I could—but whenever you make a decision, if more than 50% of the reason you’re doing it is for your ego, the odds are you’ll regret it. Why did I build the two tallest buildings in Palm Beach County, over a million square feet? I’d say more than 50% for my ego. In the end, I do regret it because at the end of the day, when I’m building 200-unit apartment buildings, I could do it with my eyes closed. They’re easy. Some projects you do for the wrong reasons. So far, it looks like the market’s really going to make it successful, but not because I did such a great job as a developer.

Being a real estate developer, you’re kind of buying lottery tickets on the economic cycles. If you look at some of the big condo kings around, they make a billion dollars, they lose a billion dollars. How do you know, when you’re conceiving a project, what the market’s going to be two years later, three years later, five years later, when you’re really out trying to monetize it? You can guess. And oftentimes people are most aggressive when things are at the peak—when you should probably be pulling in—and the least aggressive when the world’s coming to an end, when you probably want to be in there, gearing up for the next up cycle.

Forbes: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Greene: Do things that make sense for you and the way you want to live your life, not for what other people will think about what you’re doing. You only have one life and you only have so much time on the planet. Whether you’re trying to build a net worth or a business, keep your eye on the ball and stay focused on the goals, whatever they may be. If your goal is to make as much money as you can, and you don’t care about anything else, then go work real hard and do everything you can.It’s important that whatever age you are, try to step back, take a deep breath and think, “Hey, is this what I wanted in my life?” Most people are just trying to make ends meet. Most people don’t have the luxury. You get a job, you pay your bills, hopefully you can get a little bit ahead and not be behind the eight ball. That’s most people’s life. But if you do have the luxury of choices, then sit back, think carefully, and make the right choices.

Forbes: What are some of the biggest risks you think investors are facing today?

Greene: We’ve had a very unusual time with this extraordinary amount of liquidity pumped into all the advanced economies. We don’t really know where it’s going to end up. We ended the pandemic with $2.1 trillion of excess savings above average levels. It was excess everything. It was excess construction projects because there was so much liquidity. More apartments were built in the last two years than any time in history.

But now I think we’re at the point where the excess savings are gone. The extraordinary amount of new wealth that people got from the liquidity, that caused housing prices to go up, and stock prices to go up and everything else, that’s dropping a little bit, so people don’t have the same wealth and the same savings. Now’s the time where these high rates could really rear their ugly head. I just had lunch with my banker and they said they haven’t made any construction loans in the last year. So everything we see out here is from the extraordinary liquidity period we had.

But now what happens when one of my properties finishes, where are these guys going to go work? Nobody’s starting any new ones. There’s no financing. There’s nobody buying houses, nobody’s buying condos, no one’s building office buildings. It was a long runoff from the excess period, and it’s now coming to an end. That’s why a lot of people are thinking we could have a significant economic downturn, starting now or early next year, as people run out of excess savings and don’t feel as wealthy.

Forbes: Given that environment, what are the particular micro or macro factors that people should pay attention to when they’re deciding how to invest their money?

Greene: If you think that we’re coming into a slowdown, then you certainly want to have as much liquidity as possible because you’ve got to be ready. You’ve got to be prepared to start making less money. If you’re a real estate investor, maybe if things slow down, your rents are not going to go up, they’re going to go down. If you’re a waiter, you’re not going to be making as many tips. If you’re a construction worker who is making $50 an hour plus overtime, maybe you’re going to be making $25 an hour with no overtime.

Be as liquid as possible. On a long-term basis, for most people, it pays to just have a diverse pool of investments because you want to be ready for anything to happen. Have diversity in your investment portfolio, so if one thing goes up, the other thing goes down.

Forbes: You mentioned Warren Buffett as someone you look to for advice. Do you have any investing mentors?

Greene: His investing style works for almost everyone. Spend all the time you have to make sure that you’re making prudent, good investments in great businesses, great real estate, and then keep your eye on them and be patient.

The other thing that he said, which I thought was very good advice, was wait for the big fat pitch. A mistake I made is too many deals. As soon as I feel like I’ve been pitched, I feel like I’m in a batting cage and I’m just swinging at everything just coming at me so fast. But sometimes, [you have to] let them go by, and that’s what he does. He lets his cash get up to billions of dollars. But then when Goldman Sachs needs money in the financial crisis, he steps up and he just waits for that big fat pitch.

All these expressions are very valuable. You want to be greedy when people are fearful, and fearful when people are greedy. And it’s hard when everyone’s greedy, and all your friends are buying and flipping houses, right? But that’s the time when you probably want to sit back and let that crazy, greedy excess pass and wait until things calm down. And then when everybody’s panicked, like is happening now in real estate to some extent, that’s the time when no one wants to touch it because it’s going to go down forever. That’s the time you want to start being greedy.

Forbes: Are there any books that you’d recommend every investor should read?

Greene: I really don’t. I can’t say I’ve got a lot of people’s books, because most books on investing really can be summed up in a couple of pages. You could read all these how to make money in real estate books, and there’ll be 100, 200 pages on it but the general gist of it is: buy quickly, put as much debt on it as possible, use the money to go buy another one, sell it, buy another one, refinance, try to turn your money quickly.


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Elon Musk May Have Given Up On Privacy For His Jet Travels, But Taylor Swift Hasn’t

Forbes got an exclusive look at the celebrities and billionaires who’ve used a federal program to hide their private-plane flights. Here’s why it’s not working.

When he bought Twitter in October 2022, Elon Musk’s to-do list included giving Jack Sweeney the boot.

Sweeney, a college student from Orlando, Florida, had been tracking Musk’s $65 million Gulfstream G650 and tweeting the whereabouts of the richest man on Earth. Musk wasn’t amused. He saw his privacy as a security issue. “I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,” he told Sweeney in a direct message.

Musk took his quest for privacy one step further. He enrolled in a free Federal Aviation Administration program called PIA that allows private-jet owners to hide their location by having their planes transmit alternative identity codes.

It didn’t work. Sweeney is still publishing the movements of Musk’s G650 in real time — he’s just switched to Instagram, BlueSky and Facebook. It was easy to crack the FAA’s privacy code, Sweeney told Forbes. “You can do it in a day.” Eventually, Musk and his crew quit trying, Sweeney said, and now Musk flies unmasked. Musk didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The FAA’s PIA program has cloaked the travels of 48 private jets this year, according to JetSpy, a subscription flight-tracking service. The Chicago-based company has been able to figure out the owners of 38 of those planes and shared those findings exclusively with Forbes. They’re a mix of the bold-faced names of celebrity gossip and billionaire masters of the tech and financial universes, with some surprising exceptions.


Here are the jet-setters who tried and failed to travel under the radar.

Despite the jet owners’ enrollments in PIA, it’s still possible to see how frequently Taylor Swift has visited her tall American boyfriend, Travis Kelce, in Kansas City; where Magic Johnson is chasing the next deal in his Gulfstream III; how many times Kenneth Griffin has visited France, or where Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin and Evan Spiegel — or at least their planes — have taken off and landed.

The public can also follow jets owned by Walmart and employee-owned WinCo Foods as they zig-zag the country, and we’re privy to the otherwise hush-hush athlete-recruiting efforts of the University of Kansas, which has been taking flak for years from faculty over the expense of its Cessna Citation CJ4.


Plane watchers follow the aircraft by tracking transponder signals that planes have been required to transmit since 2020. The transponders flash out location, altitude, speed and a unique ID code assigned by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The system is called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B. When it was first sketched out in the 1990s, its designers didn’t anticipate that plane-spotting enthusiasts would use inexpensive receivers to capture the signals and collaborate online to create coverage maps that track planes around the world.

Hence the FAA’s privacy program, which allows jets to send out fake codes to thwart identification by everyone except the authorities. It costs nothing to enroll in PIA — short for Privacy ICAO Aircraft Address — but it’s complicated and time-consuming for plane owners to change their codes and test whether they’re functional.

Experts told Forbes that the program isn’t working because not enough aircraft are using it — the FAA said it’s issued about 390 alternate ID codes since PIA began in 2019 — and jet owners don’t change their fake codes frequently enough.

“It’s useless,” says Martin Strohmeier, cofounder of the European crowd-sourced flight-tracking website OpenSky Network. “At worst you could even say it’s dangerous because people may believe it gives them some sort of cover, which it does not.”


Not that Taylor, if we can call her that, can hope for any cover. Millions of Swifties follow the pop icon’s every move. Still, flight tracking may provide special insight into her heart. Her plane has visited Kansas City three times so far in October. Just about everyone knows Swift was in the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium on October 12 to watch a football game featuring the guy whose career she made. JetSpy — and Sweeney’s Instagram account @taylorswiftjets — inform us that her jet dropped her off that day, returned home to Nashville, then came back to Kansas City on October 14. Heart-hands emoji.

Others fly to destinations for reasons unknown to outsiders. Griffin, for example. Forbes estimates his net worth at $33.5 billion; one of his firms, Citadel Securities, acts as the intermediary for more than one in three U.S. stock trades. His plane, a Bombardier Global Express (price tag: $12 million used), has notched 195 flights this year through Monday, traveling 257,000 nautical miles. According to JetSpy, the billionaire’s plane has visited France more often this year than Chicago, where Citadel was headquartered until last year (it moved to Florida) and where it still has a big presence.

Though we have no special insight into Griffin’s heart — he didn’t respond to requests to talk about his air travel — we can surmise that he, like Musk, has security reasons for wanting his jet to fly under the radar. For instance, Griffin’s whereabouts are tracked on Reddit by retail stock investors who blame him for the controversial 2021 halt in GameStop trading on the Robinhood platform, which helped big trading houses dig out from under billions of dollars in losses while hurting many of the trade-at-home folks. Griffin denied involvement.

“I’ve seen my clients deal with threats to their safety because of people that were tracking them,” Dan Drohan, CEO of Solairus Aviation, a company that manages over 300 private jets for their owners but has no connection to Griffin, told Forbes. “It’s most upsetting for the ones that have kids.”

Sweeney, who Musk allowed to set up a new account on X (nee Twitter) tracking Musk’s jet as long as he waits 24 hours to announce its location, defends cracking the PIA codes and publicizing what he finds. “This account has every right to post jet whereabouts,” he tweeted in 2022 before he was banished. The transmissions of planes’ locations are public information, he said, and “every aircraft in the world is required to have a transponder, even AF1,” a reference to Air Force One, the U.S. president’s plane.

Another reason for the jet set’s touchiness: environmental advocates have used plane-tracking to measure the harm that private jets cause to the world’s climate and to shame their owners. For instance, the average American produces 16 tons of carbon dioxide a year. By comparison, Griffin’s jet, in the first nine-plus months of 2023, has emitted about 12 million tons.


Tracking also allows for corporate espionage of the legal variety. Brad Pierce, who owns Restaurant Equipment World, told Forbes that the sales calls he makes in his Cirrus SR-22 have enabled him to expand his Florida-based business. He said it’s also allowed a large competitor that he won’t name to monitor his travels and then drop in on the potential customers he’s been pitching. He said that the sources for that information are the company’s executives themselves, who’ve confessed to him at industry conventions. “They said, ‘We have one guy in our office who is just nonstop trying to track where you are so we can send our own people in afterward,’” Pierce told Forbes.

Gaining an edge in business is a selling point for subscription jet-tracking sites like JetSpy, Quandl and JetTrack.

For PIA to work, aircraft owners should ideally change their fake identity codes for every flight, according to Strohmeier of OpenSky Network.

Right now that’s impossible, said Rene Cervantes, operations vice president for aircraft manager Solairus Aviation, which has a handful of clients who use PIA. Changing the code requires the transponder manufacturer to produce a software update on a compact disc, of all things, which can take a month. Many owners interested in the program don’t follow through after hearing what’s involved, Cervantes told Forbes.

Some PIA enrollees appear to have given up. Among those who haven’t flown under an alternate address since last year are Kim Kardashian, Mark Zuckerberg and the private-equity giant Blackstone Group, led by billionaire Stephen Schwarzman.

French billionaire Bernard Arnault has given up, too. But he’s taken it one step further. Last year, after the CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH came under fire from a Twitter account looking to shame him over his carbon-dioxide emissions, he sold the company jet.

Arnault, whose $187.6 billion fortune Forbes said this month makes him the second-wealthiest person in the world, is now a renter, not an owner.


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Exclusive: Lukas Walton’s Builders Vision Reveals How It’s Deployed $3 Billion To Change The World

For the first time, the group founded by the Walmart heir details how it’s used investing, philanthropy and advocacy to further its lofty goals of environmental and societal transformation.

L ukas Walton’s Builders Vision, a giant in the world of impact investing, revealed for the first time Tuesday in a 57-page report how it had deployed $3 billion to slow climate change, promote sustainable farming and heal the world’s oceans, among other lofty goals.

The organization founded by the 37-year-old Walmart heir delivered a sobering message: as much as we’re trying, we can’t do it alone.

“We have a lot of capital to deploy, but these are trillion-dollar issues,” Builders Vision president Matt Knott told Forbes. “Even if we’re wildly successful in our own right, it wouldn’t be nearly enough. We need to get other investors and philanthropists to join us and dive into these transitions.”

Walton established Builders Vision as an umbrella for his philanthropic, investment and advocacy work in 2021. Today, the group’s assets include $2 billion in philanthropy, $2.05 billion in its investment arm S2G Ventures, and billions more (the group won’t specify the exact amount) in its asset-management firm, Builders Asset Management. To date, Builders Vision has invested in, financed or partnered with nearly 450 startups and organizations focused on environmental and societal change.

Among the achievements spotlighted in the report: the development of more than 170 sustainable products and technologies; the creation of over 42,000 jobs; the installation of 15,685 megawatts of renewable energy capacity, enough to power the states of Iowa and Michigan; and the mitigation, sequestration or avoidance of more than 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equal to about 870,000 passenger cars.

Walton, a grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton who inherited a fortune when his father John died in a 2005 plane crash, is worth $23.7 billion, according to Forbes. He has long focused on sustainability and environmental advocacy, and is the environment program committee chair at the Walton Family Foundation. He declined to speak with Forbes for this story, but explained his philosophy in a video that Builders Vision is releasing this morning. “I see a future in which there’s a realization of the ramifications of our decisions,” he said, “but that we have both the power and the opportunity and that we can realize alternative choices that we would be proud to share with our children.”

“Even if we’re wildly successful in our own right, it wouldn’t be nearly enough. We need to get other investors and philanthropists to join us.”

Matt Knott, Builders Vision president

For the past year, Builders Vision, which calls itself an impact platform, has been working to detail the influences of its work, bringing together data from its portfolio companies and other partners from January 2020 to June 2023. Its largest focus is energy, with $1.8 billion in funding commitments. Builders Vision has also committed $1 billion to food and agriculture, and $260 million to healthier oceans.

The group has not disclosed financial returns. Rebecca Carland, Builders Asset Management’s chief investment officer, told Forbes by email that its public ESG equity managers have “collectively outperformed the global equity index by over 200 basis points annualized over the past decade,” while its impact venture capital managers are outperforming traditional VC benchmarks by “a wide margin.” A basis point is 0.01 of a percentage point; 200 basis points are 2 percentage points.

Builders Vision is trying to convince family offices and venture investors to follow its lead. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy and Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network have similarly been set up to use impact investments to tackle global problems.

Builders Vision’s direct investments run the gamut from U.K. microplastics filtration firm Matter to Kansas City, Kansas-based electric terminal-truck maker Orange EV. It counts a total of 166 partners in food and agriculture, 125 in energy and 158 in oceans.

“If you can find the right purpose-driven investments that are addressing real problems in the world, they’re going to be attractive investment opportunities,” said Knott, who previously was president of Feeding America and an executive at PepsiCo. Revealing the platform’s impact in its report, he said, “was important for us and we believe it will be important to catalyze resources into these issues from other organizations.”

Organic Farming

Food and agriculture has been an area close to Walton’s heart. When he was three, he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and after he failed to respond to chemotherapy his mother put him on an all-natural diet, a shift he believes contributed to his recovery.

In the report, Builders Vision said that it had mitigated, avoided or sequestered more than 3.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of 683,761 passenger cars — from its work in food and agriculture. It also developed at least 114 products or technologies that promote the production and consumption of healthy food, and it sustainably manages 2.6 million acres of land.

Among the group’s investments: Omaha-based Clear Frontier, which helps farmers transition from conventional methods to organic. Justin Bruch, a fifth-generation farmer from Iowa who holds an MBA from California State University, Fresno set up the firm in early 2019 after he made the switch himself.

Clear Frontier buys up farms that could go organic, then leases them to local farmers who’ve already farmed organically or want to learn how. A big stumbling block, he said, is that farmers are required to spend three years with no synthetics on their farmland to meet the requirements of the USDA’s organic program, yet farmland is generally rented on one-year leases. “No one wants to start a 36-month process and be a year into it and maybe the farm gets sold or rented to someone who pays a higher amount,” he said. “We’re trying to facilitate being the landlord who’s there for the long haul.”

Clear Frontier has more than 15,000 acres in Nebraska, Colorado and Texas, 30% of which is now certified organic with the remainder in transition.

Clean Energy

Builders Vision’s largest dollar commitment is in clean energy. While the majority of funding has gone through fund managers, it has also invested directly in companies such as Electric Hydrogen, which has developed technology to produce green hydrogen, and Brimstone, which makes clean cement.

“Capital formation in the energy sector has been developing more rapidly,” Knott said. But while investors have flocked to the space, he said, there remain areas that haven’t received much funding. “We try to fund those white spaces,” he said.

The group focuses its venture investments on technologies that are ready to scale up, but where entrepreneurs may need help with commercialization or financing. At S2G, Builders Vision’s venture fund, “there’s a pragmatic focus on the next 10 to 15 years, and focusing on opportunities that can deliver big impact then,” said Frank O’Sullivan, S2G Ventures’ managing director, who oversees clean energy investments.

Of the $3 billion that Builders Vision has deployed to date, some 60% has gone to energy.

O’Sullivan pointed, for example, to the use of green hydrogen in the production of steel and ammonia, an area where Electric Hydrogen operates. “Even though it’s technically possible to produce green hydrogen and put it in an ammonia facility, those ammonia manufacturers aren’t able to say, ‘I’ll sign a 20-year, fixed-price agreement with you to have fixed-price hydrogen.’ That’s not their business model,” O’Sullivan said. “That misalignment between business models is an enormous friction point to making progress.”

In addition to installing 15,685 megawatts of renewable energy capacity last year, the group said it created nearly 26,000 new jobs in clean energy.

Healthy Oceans

Tackling problems such as overfishing, the proliferation of microplastics and the extinction of marine species has largely been the work of charitable enterprises. Businesses set up to help oceans have been rare. “The idea was how do we bring innovation and business development into what has largely been a philanthropic space for oceans,” said Peter Bryant, program director of the oceans program at Builders Vision’s Builders Initiative division, who previously worked with Walton on environmental issues at the Walton Family Foundation.

Among the 31 companies focused on improving ocean resilience that have received backing are Atlantic Sea Farms, which produces locally harvested sustainable seaweed; Coral Vita, which uses a process called micro-fragmentation to restore coral reefs; and Moleaer, which cleans water with nanobubbles. It has also worked with the Port of San Diego to improve the shore’s resilience, including by launching 360 artificial reef balls made up of local sediment and oyster shells to prevent erosion.

Providing funds for companies that can scale up their technologies is a major focus. Moleaer, for example, developed a generator to make its microscopic bubbles, which can remain suspended in water for a long period of time, for use in industry. Its technology can be used to replace chemicals that kill algae in water treatment, provide alternatives to chlorine to wash fruit, and even in mines to more efficiently extract copper, a necessary material for electric vehicles. “It’s all about what these bubbles can do,” said Nick Dyner, the company’s CEO. Since 2016, the Carson, California-based startup has deployed nearly 2,500 nanobubble generators worldwide.

Since focusing on oceans, Builders Vision has worked to protect or restore 1.96 million hectares of marine and coastal habitats, roughly 33 times the size of Chicago; avoided, mitigated or sequestered 876,928 metric tons of carbon dioxide; and produced 18,124 tons of seafood, seaweed and other biomass in a sustainable way, nearly the annual seafood consumption of 1,000 people, according to its report.

Measuring Impact

Tracking financial returns is one thing. Quantifying impact is much tougher. What even counts as success? “We know there’s no silver bullet here, and we’re just hoping to add to the evidence base,” said Joanna Cohen, Builders Vision’s head of impact measurement and management.

While Walton’s wealth makes Builders Vision one of the largest impact investors in the world, the group hopes to become bigger still, in terms of both dollars and influence. “I won’t give specific numbers, but I think it can be multiples of what we’re investing today,” Knott said. “And more importantly, I think we can attract multiples of that by having other investors join us on this journey.”

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How The HeyDude Guy Became A Billionaire Selling Ugly Shoes

Alessandro Rosano’s contrarian playbook for the comfort-footwear company: no financing and minimal marketing. It worked so well he sold to Crocs for $2.5 billion.

By Amy Feldman

Two years ago, Brown’s Shoe Fit Co.’s desperation to stock enough HeyDude shoes to meet the demand reached frenzied levels. The buyers for the 73-store Midwestern chain would get a status report in the morning and try to place a large order. “We would get one-fourth or one-half of what we put in for,” says Adam Smith, senior manager for Brown’s and a former store manager in Jacksonville, Illinois. “The whole nation was trying to get them.”

HeyDude founder Alessandro Rosano, an Italian entrepreneur living in Hong Kong, had tried his hand at other businesses before. But with HeyDude, which makes comfortable slip-on loafers with a so-ugly-they’re-cute look, he hit the jackpot. With minimal investment and almost no marketing, revenue took off, reaching $581 million in 2021, with net profit of $175 million. That December, Rosano agreed to sell the brand to Crocs, the $6.2 billion (market cap) firm whose own ugly-cute rubber clogs are a worldwide phenomenon, for $2.5 billion in cash and stock.

With that deal, Rosano became a billionaire, worth $1.4 billion by Forbes estimates. His business partner and American distributor Daniele Guidi also made a fortune, worth some $650 million after tax by Forbes estimates, after bringing in $787 million in cash from the deal, according to regulatory filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rosano declined to speak with Forbes, and Guidi didn’t respond to requests for comment. But what the two men were able to build, largely under the radar, is an unlikely success. It stands in stark contrast to many of the direct-to-consumer brands that received lavish amounts of funding and attention from social media during the boom years while failing to become viable businesses. Comfort shoe maker Allbirds, once the darling of Silicon Valley, for example, has seen its market cap collapse from a peak of more than $4 billion after its 2021 initial public offering to just $199 million today as annual sales failed to top $300 million and losses piled up.

“The customer wanted them so bad it almost didn’t matter what the color was.”

Adam Smith of Brown’s Shoe Fit Co.

Now Rosano, a strategic advisor to the brand under Crocs following the acquisition, has set up a family office to invest his money and work on philanthropy. Crocs is using the brand, which reached $1.1 billion in sales in the latest 12-month period, to add spice to its broader business.

Comfort shoes are having a moment. Crocs, with total sales of $3.6 billion in 2022, has said it hopes to reach $5 billion in sales for its flagship brand by 2026. HeyDude looks poised to help the company soar past that. In 2022, HeyDude was the single fastest growing brand at retail, according to consumer research firm Circana (formerly NPD).

“When we first bought it, we wanted to be clear to people that this was a scale business,” Crocs CEO Andrew Rees tells Forbes. “They hadn’t heard of it, and didn’t know what it was. We put out the $1 billion target, which we knew we could blow past, and we’ve gotten to that easily.”

Rosano, who is in his mid-50s, was a shoe dude long before he came up with HeyDude. He grew up in Tuscany, and studied at Commercio Estero, Pistoia, from 1982 to 1987, though he never received a university degree, according to his LinkedIn profile. Pistoia, a medieval Italian city that’s popular with tourists, is less than 30 miles from Florence, home to Ferragamo and Gucci, in a region known for luxury goods and footwear.

Rosano, who started designing shoes at age 18, had tried other businesses before HeyDude, and had a shoe distributor called Fratelli Diversi. On his LinkedIn profile, where he has just 164 connections, he describes his approach to that company as “acting in a fair and reasonable way, to the people and the environment. Charity acts are also a duty.”

Rosano cofounded a company with Guidi and a third person to make wooden watches called WeWood. Wooden watches are a tough business, and the company was subject to unfair competition litigation in 2011 from a now-defunct watchmaker called Vestal International. Rosano also came up with an idea for wooden clogs with springs in their heels that sold under the name Baldo. None of his early businesses found notable success.

“If you were to lay out the playbook that they followed and present it to a series of business executives, they would say there’s no way that this would succeed.”

Crocs CEO Andrew Rees

He’d been working in these various businesses for more than 20 years when he founded HeyDude in 2008. In a 2020 interview with Fotoshoe magazine, an Italian industry publication, Rosano’s sister Elena De Martini, who was then CEO of Fratelli Diversi, described how Rosano returned from a trip to China and realized that a modern shoe that was as comfortable as a slipper didn’t exist — and decided to create one.

The shoes Rosano developed, starting with the Wally for men, were lightweight, with elastic laces that didn’t require fastening, and affordable, at around $60 a pair. “The result is perfectly constructed footwear, which is innovative, ultra-light and casual, but with style,” De Martini told Fotoshoe. The shoes were designed in Italy, but the business was headquartered in Hong Kong, where Rosano lives, with production at contract factories in China.

Rosano “is a student,” Crocs CEO Rees says. “He’s a serial entrepreneur. He had a number of entrepreneurial businesses before this that had not been successful. He was looking to improve his chances of success and he admired [Crocs’] focus on simplicity and comfort.”

Though many Italian shoemakers create beautiful shoes for Europeans, Rosano was going for something more mainstream. Not wanting to name the brand after himself as many Italian shoe entrepreneurs would, he came up with HeyDude for its laid-back California vibe, says Rick Blackshaw, who became president of the brand under Crocs. “But all his friends in Italy would call it ‘ey du-day,’” Blackshaw says.

In 2010, Guidi, who has a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Pisa and runs a consulting and marketing firm called Lever Your Business, joined Rosano to open U.S. operations. The shoes took off, and HeyDude added a woman’s model known as the Wendy, a water shoe and a variety of eco-friendly designs. The shoes were prototypically American looking, easy to wear — and looked like nothing else on the market. Almost all the sales came from the U.S. market, rather than from Europe.

HeyDude sales soared from $20 million in 2018 to $191 million in 2020, according to financials that Crocs shared with investors at the 2022 ICR conference. During the pandemic, as consumers stayed home wearing yoga pants and comfort shoes, the brand fit right in. Its success came despite having no marketing to speak of other than paid search and a commission-based sales team. “It was built on a shoestring,” says Crocs’ Rees.

The brand took off by word of mouth. “In many senses, it’s a pretty remarkable story,” Rees says. “If you were to lay out the playbook that they followed and present it to a set of business executives, they would say there’s no way that this would succeed.”

With comfort shoes having a moment, the brand’s sales soared from $20 million in 2018 to $581 million in 2021.

Footwear analysts and industry watchers were blindsided. “It kind of caught a lot of the industry players by surprise,” says Beth Goldstein, a footwear analyst at Circana. “This brand came up and was all of a sudden having these huge growth rates and buzz. It piqued everyone’s interest.”

Brown’s became one of the earliest larger retailers to stock it after its Muskogee, Oklahoma store manager learned about the brand at a 2012 trade show in Las Vegas. The Buckle, a Kearney, Nebraska-based retail chain with 440 stores, also began carrying HeyDude before the shoe company’s major expansion, in 2019.

“We were known as the top HeyDude retailer,” says Brown’s Smith. “In the pandemic, we didn’t know if we could get products, so we were ordering them by the pallet.” With customers sometimes buying five pairs at a time, however much Brown’s could get its hands on sold out fast. Facebook groups sprung up where people could compare notes, and buy, sell and trade their shoes.

“It was limited quantity and a lot of fun styles and colors, and the price was right,” Smith says. “The customer wanted them so bad it almost didn’t matter what the color was. It was crazy, that’s probably the best way to put it.”

Two days before Christmas 2021, Crocs agreed to buy HeyDude for $2.5 billion, most of it in cash and a smaller amount in stock. Wall Street was not impressed. The shoes that were selling out in the Midwest were scarce on the coasts, where many of the analysts and investors live, and the shoes lacked the cache of hot new sneaker brands like Hoka and On.

“To be honest, when they announced the acquisition, I had never heard of the brand,” says Tom Nikic, a Wedbush analyst, who follows Crocs and has been covering the footwear industry for more than a decade. “It was very much a shock to the system. I think those of us in the New York, Wall Street bubble, we didn’t realize what was happening with the brand.”

Rosano had clearly timed the market well, putting the brand up for sale as it was growing fast and demand for comfort shoes was at a high. Allbirds had gone public in November 2021 gaining a $4.1 billion valuation, making it worth 15 times its sales for that year despite being in the red. By contrast, HeyDude, which was already profitable on higher sales, seemed like a bargain. Crocs CEO Rees says that he’d been following HeyDude for a few years by the time he learned it was on the market and figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to turn it into a $1 billion brand under the Crocs umbrella.

“It was a tightly managed sale process,” Rees says. “They were trying to sell to private equity at that point. We got introduced to the founder and managed to get ourselves inserted into the sales process. At that point, we also started to learn about the compelling financials. It wasn’t completely obvious because they were private, and because they weren’t selling in the traditional channels it wasn’t showing up in the typical data sets.”

Rosano had a number of businesses before HeyDude, including a wooden watch startup and a brand of clogs with springs in their heels. None found notable success.

With Covid restrictions in place, Rees and Rosano couldn’t meet in person. But Rees figured he didn’t need to meet the HeyDude management team since he planned to replace them. He saw similarities with Crocs: both were polarizing brands that a lot of consumers loved. “I think we got a pretty good deal,” he says. “We weren’t daunted by the large-dollar price tag.”

HeyDude’s strategy of focusing on one style of comfort shoe at a mass-market price was a playbook familiar to Crocs. “Alessandro was really clear that he had modeled a lot of his company on Crocs,” Rees says. “He had been studying Crocs and taking our strategies and incorporating them.”

Crocs also knew what Wall Street didn’t at first: Rosano, helped by Guidi’s U.S. distribution, had built a significant and profitable brand with minimal investment. Though those who know him say that Rosano had been strategic in how he’d built the brand, from the outside it appeared to have burst onto the scene almost by chance.

“We’ve become somewhat acclimated to these newer upstart brands being unprofitable and burning through cash,” analyst Nikic says. “This isn’t Allbirds. This isn’t a money-losing, cash-burning business. It’s actually a very highly profitable company.” Nikic compares the brand’s fast growth to Crocs itself, as well as to Ugg, which built its business on one style of comfort boots.

Since acquiring HeyDude, Crocs has hired Blackshaw, who previously ran Sperry and Keds, as its new brand president. It’s introduced new styles, including sneakers, and is setting up collaborations to give it more buzz. It’s also rejiggering its distribution, expanding to major retailers like Shoe Carnival, Famous Footwear and Academy Sports, and building a new distribution center in Las Vegas to handle its expansion.

The acquisition hasn’t been without a few snags. In the second quarter, HeyDude took a hit — with modest 3% growth as its wholesale revenue dropped 8% year-over-year — and Crocs cut its guidance for the brand for the year from mid-20% growth to between 14% and 18%. One problem: as Crocs cut smaller distributors set up by Rosano and Guidi before the acquisition, some dumped their inventory at lowball prices on Amazon. Wedbush analyst Nikic figures that the problems with gray-market goods should wind down in the coming months once the legacy distributors’ inventory is gone. In its earnings call, Crocs pointed to HeyDude’s 30% increase in direct-to-consumer revenues as a sign of the brand’s strength while it dealt with the “pipeline fill” issues in the wholesale channel. Crocs shares are down 19%, at a recent $100, since the deal was announced.

Crocs hopes to make HeyDude as ubiquitous as its original ugly-cute rubber clogs, helped by new distribution and marketing muscle.

Marketing muscle and collaborations helped Crocs push its flagship brand, and it intends to do the same with HeyDude. Blackshaw says that the company will “overinvest,” noting it could spend up to 8% of total sales on marketing. Part of the plan: connect with consumers on TikTok and Meta, helped by partnerships with influencers and athletes. A collaboration with hunting brand Mossy Oak launched in June, another with YouTube sports and comedy group Dude Perfect (whose channel has 60 million subscribers) followed in August and a college licensing deal is in the works for this fall. The company has plans for more collaborations, including with Yellowstone, The Big Lebowski, a major beer brand and some toy brands. “It’s a lot of the same playbook that Crocs brought to bear,” Blackshaw says.

Whether the brand will take off on the coasts as it has in the middle of the country remains to be seen. Another risk for HeyDude as it expands is oversaturation. As analyst Goldstein notes, Crocs will need to strike the right balance between growth and introducing new styles that risk cannibalizing its core business. “They almost invented a category,” she says. As the brand expands into other types of shoes, “they need to make their proposition clear,” she says. “Why is a HeyDude sneaker better than anyone else’s casual sneaker?”

Meanwhile, Rosano has his fortune to invest and give away. While venture-backed startups stumble, HeyDude harkens back to an older way of building a company on a smart idea and a shoestring. Perhaps, like comfort shoes, it’s time for that to come back into style.


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Retire Right With These 6 Billionaire Stocks That Pay Dividends Monthly

Here are six real estate investment trusts owned by billionaires like Ken Griffin and Jim Simons that pay dividends monthly.

By John Dobosz, Forbes Staff

It’s no secret that dividends are highly prized by investors because they provide reliable income and a source of investment returns, even when stock prices are falling. Most dividend-paying stocks kick out cash dividends every three months, but a much smaller subset of a few dozen stocks pay on a monthly basis, providing a faster flow of income, or a quickened pace of compounding if investors reinvest dividends into additional shares of stock.

Most U.S.-listed stocks paying monthly dividends are either real estate investment trusts (REITs), business development companies, or oil and gas royalty trusts. These so-called “pass-through” entities do not pay tax on the corporate level because they distribute nearly all their income as dividends, which are taxed as ordinary income for shareholders who receive them, if the REITs are not held within an individual retirement account.

Like rent checks earned every month from rental properties, several of the worlds’ top billionaire investors have been scooping up monthly dividends from REITs that specialize in different niches of the property market, including shopping centers, office buildings, distribution centers and warehouses, recreational facilities, and nursing homes.

Sharply higher borrowing costs are not a friend of REITs. They increase interest cost on new debt and could adversely impact the ability to refinance existing debt, sell assets, and limit acquisition and development activities. Nonetheless, even as rising interest rates present headwinds for real estate, REITs remain ideal securities for income-oriented investors and for anyone interested in generating total return from dividends and long-term capital appreciation potential.

Regarding the importance of dividends in total return, pioneering female income investor Geraldine Weiss, longtime editor of Investment Quality Trends, was fond of saying, “We all hope for capital gains, but the only thing we can really count on is the dividend.”

The six REITs presented below are all monthly dividend-payers with annual yields ranging from 3.3% to 7.6%, making them good candidates for those looking for steady retirement income. All have payouts comfortably below their cash flow and are trading at discounted valuations relative to history. In addition, the most recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show significant ownership by highly skilled billionaire investors.

Agree Realty (ADC)

Dividend Yield: 4.8%

Market Capitalization: $5.9 billion

Billionaire Ownership: Ken Fisher, Bruce Flatt, Ken Griffin, Ray Dalio, Steven Cohen, Jim Simons, Israel Englander, Clifford Asness

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Agree Realty (ADC) is focused squarely on retail. It owns, acquires, develops, and manages net-lease properties rented to national retail tenants that include Walmart, Dollar General, Tractor Supply, Best Buy, Dollar Tree, and Kroger. Revenue is on the rise, expected to grow 20% this year to $517.2 million, with funds from operations up 2% to $3.95 per share. REITs are traditionally valued as a multiple of funds from operations (FFO), which differ from earnings in that they do not include the impact of interest, taxes, depreciation, or gains/losses on the sale of properties. Agree Realty trades at 15.1 times expected FFO, which is a 21% discount to its five-year average price/FFO ratio of 19.2. With a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.43, Agree is not stressed financially.

With ADC shares down 18% from their February high, it’s a clear sign of bullishness that company insiders are buying the stock hand-over-fist. Five different officers and directors, including the chief financial officer, purchased a total of $4.56 million worth of stock in the month of August. Executive Chairman Richard Agree personally ponied up $1.9 million to buy 30,000 shares. Billionaire investors have also shown a strong appetite for Agree. Israel Englander’s Millennium Management hedge fund reported new buys in the first and second quarters of 2023 and now owns 1.02 million shares of ADC, representing 1.1% of outstanding shares.

Phillips Edison & Co. (PECO)

Dividend Yield: 3.3%

Market Capitalization: $4.0 billion

Billionaire Ownership: Jim Simons, Clifford Asness, Ken Griffin, Ken Fisher

Phillips Edison & Co. (PECO), a midcap REIT out of Cincinnati, Ohio, specializes in ownership of shopping centers anchored by grocery stores. This REIT was founded in 1991 by Jeffrey Edison and Michael Phillips. Mr. Edison is the current chairman and chief executive officer of Phillips Edison, which went public in July 2021, and he owns 335,000 of the 117.3 million shares outstanding.

PECO owns and operates a $6.2 billion national portfolio of 291 grocery-anchored shopping centers clustered in Florida, the Eastern Seaboard, the Midwest, and along the Pacific coast. Top tenants as a percentage of total revenue are Kroger (6.2%), Publix (5.8%), Albertsons (4.1%), Koninklijke Ahold Delhaize N.V. (3.9%), and Walmart (2%). Revenue this year is expected to grow 6.6% to $597.5 million, with funds from operations up 6% to $2.28 per share.

Over the past 12 months, Phillips Edison generated free cash flow of $1.29 per share, which is comfortably above $1.12 per share in annual dividends, which are paid at a rate of $0.0933 per month, good for a dividend yield of 3.3% at current prices. Dividend growth is also encouraging. Since its IPO two years ago, PECO has hiked its monthly payout at a 4.8% annual rate.

The appealing fundamentals of PECO are nicely complemented by insider buying and billionaire ownership. On May 16, board member Leslie Chao laid out $292,000 to acquire 10,000 shares of PECO. Billionaire Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies reports ownership of 187,000 shares, Clifford Asness of AQR Capital holds 14,000 shares, and Ken Griffin’s Citadel reports a stake of 7,000 shares. Ken Fisher owns 9,000 shares.

Realty Income (O)

Dividend Yield: 5.4%

Market Capitalization: $40.4 billion

Billionaire Ownership: Ken Griffin, Ray Dalio, Jim Simons, Israel Englander, Clifford Asness

With a market capitalization north of $40 billion, San Diego, Calif.-based Realty Income (O) is the biggest name in this group of monthly dividend payers. It owns 13,100 retail, industrial, and agricultural properties leased to 1,300 tenants in 85 separate industries, allowing Realty Income to generate stable cash flow and deliver consistent monthly dividends. The current property portfolio includes high-quality real estate in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Ireland.

Realty Income has paid steadily rising dividends over its entire 54-year operating history, and dividend growth has outpaced inflation. Realty Income has hiked its dividend 5.3% annually over the past 10 years, and 4.7% annually since its initial public offering in 1994. Dividends of $3.07 per year are comfortably supported by $4.29 in free cash flow per share and provide investors with a current dividend yield of 5.4%.

Revenue has grown 21.5% annually over the past 10 years and is seen rising 18% to $3.9 billion in 2023. Funds from operations are expected to increase 2% to $4.12 per share. At 13.5 times FFO, Realty Income trades 25% below its five-year average price/FFO multiple of 18.1. Debt is manageable at 63% of equity.

The value of Realty Income was compelling enough for Israel Englander’s Millennium Management to establish a new position of 1.28 million shares at a cost of $60.92 per share in the second quarter of 2023—a cost basis 7% above the current stock price just below $57 per share. Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies bought 378,000 shares during the same period at similar prices. With smaller stakes, Clifford Asness of AQR owns 97,000 shares, and Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater holds 90,000 shares.

STAG Industrial (STAG)

Dividend Yield: 4.2%

Market Capitalization: $6.3 billion

Billionaire Ownership: Israel Englander, Bruce Flatt, Ken Griffin, Steven Cohen, Clifford Asness

Boston-based STAG Industrial (STAG) was founded in 2010 and specializes in owning and managing huge distribution centers and warehouses along interstate highways. STAG owns 561 buildings in 41 states with approximately 111.6. million rentable square feet. Accounting for 2.8% of $654.4 million in 2022 revenue, is the company’s largest tenant. Other major clients include American Tire Distributors, Hachette Book Group, Tempur Sealy, DHL, FedEx, Penguin Random House, and Ford Motor Company.

Analysts who follow STAG expect this year’s revenue to rise 6.4% to $696.5 million, and FFO to grow 2.3% to $2.26 per share. At 14.9 times current year’s FFO, STAG trades 9.3% below its five-year average price-to-FFO ratio of 16.0. Funds from operations have grown at an 18.8% compound annual rate over the past five years, and free cash flow has increased 18.9% annually over the same stretch of time.

Billionaires are buyers. Israel Englander’s Millennium Management has been the most bullish, taking down 1.1 million shares in the second quarter and now owns 0.62% of STAG’s outstanding shares. Clifford Asness owns 322,000 shares, Ken Fisher holds 303,000 shares, and Ken Griffin’s Citadel owns 90,000 shares. Bruce Flatt’s Brookfield doubled its stake in the second quarter and now owns 48,000 shares.

EPR Properties (EPR)

Dividend Yield: 7.6%

Market Capitalization: $3.3 billion

Billionaire Ownership: Ken Griffin, Jim Simons, Israel Englander, Clifford Asness

Founded in 1997, Kansas City, Mo.-based EPR Properties (EPR) owns a $5.4 billion portfolio of specialty properties concentrated in entertainment, education, and recreation. Properties include 172 movie theaters, 67 charter schools, 41 early childhood centers, 25 golf entertainment complexes, 11 ski parks, and five water parks. EPR also owns one gaming property, Resorts World Catskills casino and resort in Sullivan County, N.Y. Largest tenants as a percentage of 2022 revenue are AMC Theatres (13.8%), Topgolf (13.7%), Regal Entertainment (12.7%), Cinemark (6.1%), and Vail Resorts (5.1%).

EPR’s revenue this year compared to 2022 is expected to jump 18.6% to $586.3 million, and FFO is expected to grow 7.7% to $5.05 per share. Priced at 8.7 times expected 2023 FFO, EPR trades 26.3% lower than itis five-year average price/FFO ratio of 11.8. It also trades 26.5% below its five-year average enterprise value-to-Ebitda ratio of 17.0.

EPR suspended its dividend in July 2020 after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic but reinstated it one year later in July 2021, and the monthly payout has grown 4.9% annually over the past two years. Yielding 7.6%, EPR trades ex-dividend on August 30 for its next monthly payout of $0.275 per share.

Insiders are nibbling at the stock. On June 13, company director Caixia Ziegler bought 500 shares at $45.14 apiece. Among billionaire investors, Israel Englander and Ken Griffin both reduced their stakes in the second quarter but still own 675,000 and 477,000 shares, respectively. Jim Simons’ Renaissance Technologies holds 344,000 shares, and Clifford Asness of AQR reports owning 322,000 shares.

LTC Properties (LTC)

Dividend Yield: 7.2%

Market Capitalization: $1.3 billion

Billionaire Ownership: Ken Griffin, Jim Simons, Clifford Asness

Westlake Village, Calif.-based LTC Properties (LTC) invests in senior housing and health care properties, primarily through sale-leaseback transactions, mortgage financing, and structured finance deals that include mezzanine lending. Its portfolio includes 213 properties in 29 states with 29 operating partners. Based on gross real estate investments, the portfolio is composed of approximately 50% senior housing and 50% skilled nursing facilities. Based on each tenant’s share of 2022 revenue of $128.2 million, LTC’s largest tenants were Prestige Healthcare (14%), ALG Senior (10.4%), Brookdale Senior Living (8.9%), and Anthem Memory Care (6.2%).

LTC has been paying dividends since its inception in October 1992, and the payout has grown 2.4% annually over the past decade. Even though growth is not overwhelming, LTC’s dividends, currently paid at the rate of $0.19 per month, give the REIT a meaty yield of 7.2%. Annual dividends of $2.28 per share are covered by $2.54 in free cash flow per share over the past 12 months. Revenue this year is expected to creep higher by 1% to $129.1 million, and funds from operations are seen rising 2.7% to $2.63 per share. At 11.9 times current-year FFO, LTC trades 14.4% below its five-year average price/FFO ratio of 13.9.

Clifford Asness’ AQR hedge fund boosted its LTC holdings by 89% to 34,000 shares in the second quarter of 2023, while Jim Simons of Renaissance Technologies acquired 21,000 shares at $35.47 per share in the second quarter, and now owns 68,000 shares of LTC. Ken Griffin’s Citadel reports a small stake of 5,000 shares.

John Dobosz is a senior editor and editor of Forbes Billionaire Investor newsletter.


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Who Got Richer And Poorer : Gautam Adani Was Up, While Dish Network’s Chairman Got Downgraded

A Mumbai real estate developer and a high school dropout who flies fighter jets for fun also soared this week.

Fast-growing U.S. labor costs and a dip in the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims presented a rocky week for the markets. But overall the indexes saw a modest increase since last Friday, with the S&P 500 up 1.9% and the tech-centric Nasdaq Composite up 2.6%.

But not everyone fared well this week. Charles Ergen, the billionaire cofounder and chairman of Dish Network, shed $600 million of his fortune since last Friday as shares of his pay TV and wireless firm hit a 14-year low. Early this week Dish Network disclosed that it was hit by a ransomware attack in late February and that unspecified data was stolen.

Shares of Dish Network fell more than 6% on Tuesday after the company stated in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that “certain data was extracted” in a breach that targeted internal communications and customer support operations. On top of that one influential analyst downgraded the firm on Tuesday, likely pushing shares even lower.

Other billionaires had a much better week. Indian tycoon Mangal Prabhat Lodha’s real estate firm Macrotech Developers reversed course from a 52-week low on Friday Feb. 24 following an analyst upgrade for the Mumbai-based property developer. Shares rose 38% this week. And India’s Gautam Adani–who was the world’s third richest person in mid January–got a boost as U.S.-based investor GQG Partners injected nearly $1.9 billion into four of the Adani Group’s listed companies. The investment followed a difficult month for Adani Group in the wake of a short-seller report released on Jan. 24.

Another billionaire who had a good week: Jared Isaacman, a fighter-jet flying payments entrepreneur, who got 18% richer after his payment processing company Shift4 Payments reported strong 2022 results, lifting shares to a 52-week high.

We tracked the change in fortunes from the market close on Friday, February 24 through the close on Friday, March 3.

Here’s how some of the world’s richest people fared this week.

Charles Ergen

Net Worth: $3.4 bil 🔴 Down $600 mil, -15%

Country: United States | Source Of Wealth: Satellite TV | View profile

The cyber attack that caused a multi-day service outage wasn’t the only thing that affected Dish this week. On Tuesday, Bank of America senior research analyst David Barden issued a rare double-downgrade for Dish, lowering the stock from buy to underperform. For Ergen, who took the pay television provider public in 1996 and in recent quarters has continued to watch Dish lose subscribers, the bad news represents a dentin his fortune. Dish shares price closed down 15% this week.

Dish has been trying for years to build a 5G wireless network to cover at least 70% of the U.S. by June of this year following the 2020 merger of its competitors Sprint and T-Mobile. Barden, along with other analysts, noted future opportunities in 5G might be scarce for Dish due to competition and technological challenges in the past year.

Mangal Prabhat Lodha

Net Worth: $4.9 bil 🟢 Up $1.5 bil, +44%

Country: India | Source Of Wealth: Real estate | View profile

Property magnate Lodha of India saw a massive 44% increase in his fortune this week after his Mumbai-based real estate firm Macrotech Developers was upgraded by Motilal Oswald Research, which noted an increase in the number of housing units registered in Mumbai in February and predicted that India’s per capita income will grow in the next decade. Lodha founded his property development firm in 1980 and took it public in 2021. He started out building homes for the middle class in Mumbai suburbs and later built Trump Tower Mumbai, a 75-story luxury apartment skyscraper. He and his family members own about 85% of the company’s shares.

Gautam Adani

Net Worth: $42.7 bil 🟢 Up $7.4 bil, +21%

Country: India | Source Of Wealth: Adani Group | View profile

GQG Partners, a U.S.-based firm with $92 billion in assets under management, put a total of $1.87 billion into four listed Adani Group companies, the group announced Thursday. The move boosted confidence in the group’s ability to bring in outside funding more than a month after short seller Hindenburg Research alleged the group of stock manipulation and accounting fraud. Adani Group has denied all such allegations.

Shares of Adani Enterprises, the group’s flagship company, rose a notable 43% this week, a climb that started several days before the GQG injection was disclosed. Adani Enterprises shares rose nearly 17% on Friday after GQG’s $660 million investment in the principal namesake was announced on Thursday after Indian markets closed. Shares of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone jumped 10% after GQG dropped $640 million on the firm; shares of Adani Ports hit a high mark since the Hindenburg report was released in late January.

Jared Isaacman

Net Worth: $2.2 bil 🟢 Up $400 mil, +18%

Country: United States | Source Of Wealth: Payment processing | View profile

Last year was a good one for Isaacman, the founder and CEO of payment processing firm Shift4 Payments. The company, which reported 2022 results on Tuesday, beat analysts’ earnings per share estimates and reported nearly $2 billion in 2022 revenue, a 46% increase over 2021, leading to a strong spike in the share price Tuesday that continued, lifting shares by 25% for the week.

“The success Shift4 enjoys today is the result of our early entry into the world of integrated payments,” Isaacman said in a letter to shareholders. “We are taking an aggressive position with respect to controlling costs in an uncertain environment and are committed to maintaining flat as possible headcount from 2022 exit levels.”


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Inside Mediobanca, The Investment Bank Making Record Profits Taking Italy’s Biggest Brands Public

Since its founding in 1946, Mediobanca has been at the heart of Italy’s economy. In the last decade, it’s done business with at least 10 Italian billionaires tied to companies like Ferrari and Moncler—and now it’s touting its success in its wealth management business.

Over the last decade, the Milan-based investment bank Mediobanca has had a hand in bringing some of Italy’s most iconic companies public, from sports car maker Ferrari to luxury fashion brands Brunello Cucinelli, Ferragamo, Moncler and Zegna. Last year, it advised the only two Italian companies to price IPOs at more than $1 billion on the Milan stock exchange—probe card manufacturer Technoprobe and electrode maker Industrie De Nora—in public listings that minted two new billionaires. And it helped the billionaire Benetton family and Blackstone close a $56 billion (including debt) buyout and delisting of infrastructure holding company Atlantia in November, the largest take-private transaction of the year—even bigger than Elon Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter.

Altogether, Forbes estimates that Mediobanca has done business with at least 10 Italian billionaires in the past decade, either through working on their IPOs or helping them through mergers and acquisitions.

Some of those deals powered the bank to a record $595 million in net income on $1.8 billion in revenues in the last six months of 2022, a 6% and 14% increase, respectively, from the same period in 2021. A quarter of the revenues came from the bank’s wealth management division, which brought in $3.9 billion in net new money, or new client funds—an area which has grown thanks to Mediobanca’s relationships with entrepreneurs taking their companies public or selling them to private investors.

With a market capitalization of $9 billion, Mediobanca, founded in 1946, is a minnow compared to American behemoths such as JPMorgan Chase (with a $415 billion market cap) and Goldman Sachs ($117 billion market cap.) But when it comes to the lucrative market for public listings, mergers and acquisitions, the Milan-based bank has been punching above its weight. In January 2021, it was one of the advisors to French automaker PSA Group, better known as Peugeot, on its $52 billion merger with Fiat Chrysler to form a new conglomerate called Stellantis. Last September, Mediobanca was the exclusive advisor to Porsche on its $77 billion IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the largest public offering in European history.

“Mediobanca is a unique model in private investment banking,” said Alberto Nagel, Mediobanca’s CEO, in the company’s latest earnings call on February 9. “We capture [IPOs and M&As] and we continue to grow in terms of net new money.”

Some of Italy’s richest people are also shareholders in Mediobanca. Delfin, the holding company of the late eyeglasses tycoon Leonardo Del Vecchio (d. July 2022), holds a 19.8% stake in the bank, while cement and publishing billionaire Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone owns 5.6%. Mediolanum Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi—also a billionaire—held a 2% stake in the bank until he sold it in May 2021. (Berlusconi is still an indirect investor through his 30.1% stake in Italian bank Mediolanum, which holds a 3.4% stake in Mediobanca; the billionaire Doris family owns 40.4% of Mediolanum.)

That hasn’t always been positive: Between 2019 and 2022, Del Vecchio and Caltagirone gradually bought more shares in Mediobanca and criticized what they perceived as the bank’s reliance on its 13% stake in Generali—Italy’s largest insurer, where Mediobanca, Delfin and Caltagirone all hold large stakes—for profits. Last year the two moguls mounted an activist shareholder campaign, opposing Mediobanca’s proposal to reappoint Generali’s CEO. The plan failed when Generali’s shareholders voted 55.9% in favor of the outgoing board last April, with only 41.7% backing the proposal led by Caltagirone.

Francesco Milleri, the new chairman of Delfin since Del Vecchio’s death, appeared to put an end to the feud last month. “Delfin remains a long-term investor in Mediobanca,” he said in a February 24 interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera. “Our investments in Mediobanca and Generali have been excellent, with increased value and generous dividends.” A spokesperson for Mediobanca told Forbes that neither Caltagirone nor Delfin have bought more shares or released any statements on Mediobanca and Generali since Generali’s April 2022 board meeting.

Still, their influence is limited. More than two-thirds of Mediobanca’s shareholders are retail and institutional investors: 16% hail from the U.S., a new area of focus for the bank, where it recently concluded a roadshow in late February. In 2021, it launched a co-investment initiative with asset manager BlackRock’s private equity unit, offering access to investments in privately-owned companies to Mediobanca’s ultra-high-net-worth clients—commonly defined as people with $30 million or more to invest.

That’s a stark contrast from Mediobanca’s early years. The bank was founded in 1946, the same year Italy became a republic and embarked on its recovery from World War II. The founders, Enrico Cuccia and Raffaele Mattioli, had both worked at Italy’s state-owned Banca Commerciale Italiana, a unit of the Italian public holding company established in 1933 to help the country’s businesses recover from the Great Depression. Their goal at Mediobanca was to help rebuild Italy’s economy and provide financing to its largest companies, which were struggling after years of war.

“After World War II there was a clear need to stimulate post-war reconstruction and favor the evolution of an Italian industrial system by linking it to financial markets,” Nagel told Forbes. “Mediobanca’s founders thought about a business that could act as a modern corporate and investment bank, with a deep understanding of the needs of [the country’s] industrial sectors and the ability to finance their growth with loans, guide them in raising capital on the market and advise them on mergers and acquisitions.”

Mediobanca went public in 1956 and four years later it launched a lending program called Compass, making it the first bank to offer personal loans to Italian consumers. It also played a central role in Italy’s postwar economic recovery and golden era of growth: Cuccia and Mediobanca helped finance the 1970 merger between Italian tire-making giant Pirelli and Ireland-based Dunlop and the rescue of ailing automaker Fiat in 1972. Mediobanca’s ability to offer financing at favorable rates, plus its cross-shareholdings in some of Italy’s largest industrial groups, gave the bank considerable influence in the Italian economy for decades.

That began to change when Cuccia stepped down as CEO in 1982 and in 1988, when Mediobanca—which was previously majority-owned by the Italian state—was privatized, in a deal that saw three of Italy’s national banks reduce their collective stake to 25%. In the 1990s, Mediobanca helped privatize several of Italy’s largest state-owned companies, including telecoms firm Telecom Italia and energy distributor Enel.

Another turning point came when Nagel took over as CEO in 2003, three years after Cuccia’s death in 2000. “One of Nagel’s ideas was to transition Mediobanca from a model of cross-shareholdings to a specialized bank in which the three divisions—corporate and investment banking, wealth management and consumer finance—work together in synergy,” a spokesperson for Mediobanca told Forbes.

Mediobanca expanded in 2004, opening offices in Paris and later in Moscow, Frankfurt, Madrid, New York and London. The bank then moved into digital retail banking in 2008 with the launch of CheBanca, and in 2016 it set up a private banking unit to manage the wealth of Italy’s richest families and entrepreneurs.

Still, the Italian market can only take Mediobanca so far, with the number of public listings falling by 35% to 32 last year from a record 49 in 2021. The bank also expects large merger and acquisition activity to slow for the rest of 2023, making it all the more important to keep key customers such as Porsche and continue its overseas expansion.

Last year, reports emerged that Lamborghini and Prada were weighing listing on European stock exchanges (Prada’s shares are currently listed in Hong Kong.) With its track record in fast cars and high fashion, Mediobanca could battle it out with its European and American rivals to take a cut of those deals—if they ever happen.

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Exclusive: New Investigation Reveals Gautam Adani’s Older Brother As Key Player In Adani Group’s Biggest Deals

Vinod Adani was at the heart of two massive Adani Group deals with French energy giant TotalEnergies, according to Indian filings. Forbes also found that Vinod is nearly five times richer than previously known.

By Giacomo Tognini and John Hyatt, Forbes Staff

In early 2021, Gautam Adani scored a big win. Adani Green Energy, one of eight publicly traded firms controlled by his Adani Group conglomerate, agreed to sell a 20% stake to French oil firm TotalEnergies. “We have a shared vision of developing renewable power at affordable prices,” said Adani at the time.

The deal was also a coup for TotalEnergies, now the world’s fifth-largest energy company by market capitalization. It paid $2 billion for Adani Green Energy shares that, on India’s stock exchange, were worth about $4.1 billion. As part of the deal, TotalEnergies also spent $510 million on a joint solar venture with the Adani Group.

“It’s a win-win situation for both companies,” says Haran Segram, an adjunct finance professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and Columbia Business School. In return for a “bargain” priced slice of Adani Green, TotalEnergies improved the Adani Group’s standing with foreign investors. “A European multinational oil company investing gives a lot of credibility for Adani Group,” says Segram.

Beyond being a good deal, the transaction was unique for another reason: its unconventional structuring. Rather than directly buying the shares, TotalEnergies acquired two Mauritius-incorporated funds (which held the stock) from a third Mauritius entity, Dome Trade and Investment Limited, according to Indian financial filings.

It turns out that Dome Trade’s ultimate owner—through a web of entities in Mauritius, the United Arab Emirates and the British Virgin Islands—is Vinod Adani, Gautam’s older brother, whose offshore entanglements with the Adani Group Forbes unraveled earlier this month. While 60-year-old Gautam is the Adani Group’s public face, it’s Vinod and his offshore companies that are facilitating some of the family conglomerate’s biggest deals, including two transactions with TotalEnergies, the company’s largest European partner—and, at least until recently, one that helped give the Adani Group credibility with Western financial institutions and investors.

In its bombshell 100-page report last month, U.S. short seller Hindenburg Research alleged that 74-year-old Vinod, who holds no formal position within the Adani Group, is a central figure in the company’s alleged accounting fraud and stock market manipulation. The Adani Group has denied all wrongdoing. The company and Vinod Adani did not respond to a request for comment. The company insists in a 413-page response to Hindenburg Research that Vinod “has no role in [the] day to day affairs” of the Adani Group’s businesses.

MORE FROM FORBESInside The Offshore Empire Helmed By Gautam Adani’s Older Brother

By April 2022, TotalEnergies’ $2 billion investment in Adani Green Energy had ballooned to over $11 billion in value as the share price soared. But now, the French company is sitting on a loss. Its shares are worth just $1.7 billion—down from $7.3 billion at the start of the year—due to the Hindenburg-driven rout in Adani Group shares.

One reason the Adani Group and Vinod may have wanted to sell TotalEnergies their Mauritius-based funds, rather than the Adani Green Energy shares themselves, was to minimize taxes, says Aswath Damodaran, a professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business. In Mauritius, where there are no capital gains taxes, Indian nationals and companies have long parked assets as a way to “wash their capital gains and not have to pay taxes,” says Damodaran.

The structure of the deal also suggests tax benefits for TotalEnergies. Absent tax benefits, “It doesn’t make sense for [Total] as a company,” says Damodaran. “It creates a layer between [them] and [their] holding.”

Another possibility, says Mark Humphery-Jenner, an associate professor of finance at University of New South Wales Business School, is that both parties were wary of crashing Adani Green’s share price, given its low float. “The Mauritius funds—and Vinod Adani—might have wanted to exit but realized that if they sold in the open market, they would collapse Adani Green’s price. Therefore, a block trade via TotalEnergies would be a better option for Adani Green, and Vinod Adani,” says Humphery-Jenner.

A spokesperson for TotalEnergies told Forbes that “the purchase price of $2 billion (as disclosed in the public domain) was a reflection of the historical average share price of [Adani Green Energy] at the time of the negotiation and the fact that TotalEnergies was acquiring a non-controlling interest” and that “these transactions were negotiated between both TotalEnergies’ and Adani’s M&A and management teams.”

“We welcome the independent assessment that is being organized and we look forward to its results as well as the conclusions of investigations of the relevant Indian authorities,” the TotalEnergies spokesperson added.

Forbes found that the price that TotalEnergies paid for the Adani Green Energy shares on January 21, 2021—the day the deal closed—was 8% lower than the average price of the shares over the previous year and 62% lower than the average over the previous six months.

Vinod was also involved in the Adani Group’s first deal with TotalEnergies. The French group agreed to buy a 37.4% stake in publicly traded natural gas firm Adani Gas in October 2019. The deal closed in February 2020, with TotalEnergies paying $714 million, or $50 million less than the open market valued them at the time. Unlike the Adani Green Energy deal, TotalEnergies bought those shares directly from six different Adani-controlled entities, according to Adani Gas’ 2020 annual report. Four of those were Mauritius-based funds owned by Vinod; the others were an Indian company, owned by Vinod, Gautam and their brother Rajesh, and a trust, of which the three brothers are beneficiaries and trustees. It has also been a much better investment than Adani Green Energy: that stake is up five-fold, now worth $3.6 billion.

In a third deal, TotalEnergies bought a 25% stake in Adani New Industries Ltd.—a green hydrogen subsidiary of the conglomerate’s flagship Adani Enterprises—for an undisclosed sum last summer. Vinod’s involvement in that deal could not be confirmed, although he is a significant shareholder in Adani Enterprises. The deal “further strengthens our alliance with the Adani Group in India,” Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, said at the time. That project was put on ice following Hindenburg’s report: “Obviously, the hydrogen project, which was discussed, will be put on hold as long as we don’t have clarity,” Pouyanné said in a February 8 earnings call.

Vinod also participated in the Adani Group’s $6.5 billion acquisition of Swiss firm Holcim’s stakes in Indian cement producers Ambuja Cements and ACC last September. His Mauritius-based company Endeavor Trade and Investment Limited purchased a 63% stake in Ambuja and 57% stake in ACC. A month later, in October, Vinod used another Mauritius entity he controls—Harmonia Trade and Investment Limited—to inject some $600 million into Ambuja by purchasing warrants that convert to shares. According to the filing, Harmonia will have to pay another $1.8 billion to Ambuja when it converts those warrants to shares, which would then give Harmonia a 19.4% stake in Ambuja—bringing Vinod’s overall stake in the cement maker to 70.3%.

Given these revelations, Vinod is much wealthier than previously thought. Forbes found that he owns eight Mauritius-based firms that hold $12.3 billion of shares in Adani Group companies, plus Ambuja and ACC. Accounting for pledged shares plus the cost to buy the cement companies, Forbes estimates that Vinod is worth at least $6 billion, up from our previous estimate of $1.3 billion published less than two weeks ago. Forbes previously attributed the value of those shares to Gautam; his revised net worth is now $33.4 billion—a sharp fall from his peak of $158 billion last September, when he was the world’s third-richest person. (As of Monday evening New York time, Gautam was the world’s 38th richest, per Forbes.)

It’s likely that Vinod holds even more shares in Adani companies through opaque entities he co-owns with his brothers. The largest shareholder in the Adani Group’s publicly traded companies is the S.B. Adani Family Trust, which Forbes attributes to Gautam. But Indian financial filings show that Vinod and three other Adani brothers—Rajesh, Mahasukh and Vasant—are also beneficiaries of the trust alongside Gautam, with Gautam, Rajesh and Vinod acting as trustees. There are another two companies—Adani Trading Services LLP and Adani Tradeline Private Limited—that also own shares in public Adani firms, which Forbes attributes to Gautam. According to Indian stock exchange filings, however, Gautam shares ownership of the two entities with Vinod and Rajesh. (The exact ownership breakdown of the S.B. Family Trust, Adani Trading Services and Adani Tradeline remains unclear.)

Vinod also has a private real estate empire in Dubai, where he’s lived since 1994. According to Dubai property records, Vinod owns 37 residential and commercial properties worth an estimated $17 million in the emirate, including a 2,700-square-foot villa in the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world. The data, which dates from 2020, was obtained by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that researches international crime and conflict. It was then shared with Norwegian financial outlet E24, which coordinated an investigation into the real estate.

The Dubai records also show that Vinod holds an Indian passport issued in 2013 and expiring in 2026—a detail that seemingly contradicts Adani public filings describing him as a citizen of Cyprus, since India doesn’t allow dual citizenship. A spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska May Have Probed Vladimir Potanin Using Ex-FBI Agent Who Was Thorn In Trump’s Side

The indictment alleges that Deripaska retained a former FBI agent and a former Russian diplomat to investigate the assets of a rival oligarch, which Forbes found likely refers to Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s second-richest person.

Last Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped a bombshell when it indicted a former FBI agent and a former Russian diplomat and interpreter on charges of money laundering and violating sanctions to help sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The 21-page indictment reads like the script of a mobster flick: the defendants refer to their sanctioned client as “our friend from Vienna,” “you know whom” and “the big guy.”

But the most striking allegation is that Deripaska sought to retain the former special agent, Charles McGonigal, and the former diplomat, Sergey Shestakov, to conduct an investigation into another, unnamed Russian oligarch with whom Deripaska was “contesting control over” a “large Russian corporation” in the spring of 2021. The effort allegedly involved looking into the rival oligarch’s assets outside of Russia and the possibility that he held another passport besides his Russian one.

A person familiar with the situation told Forbes that “probably [the oligarch] is Vladimir Potanin.” Vladimir Potanin is one of Russia’s richest people with an estimated $27.5 billion fortune. The “Russian corporation” likely refers to Norilsk Nickel, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel and palladium, also known as Nornickel.

“Deripaska was collecting materials to file a lawsuit in London [against Potanin] in order to force a new shareholder agreement for Norilsk Nickel to be concluded on the same terms,” the person added. A representative for Deripaska did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s not the first time that Deripaska and McGonigal have been in the spotlight: They were both involved in the FBI investigation into the contacts between Russia and Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign. An FBI deputy assistant director stated in 2020 that an email from McGonigal in 2016 regarding Trump campaign advisor George Padadopoulos’ claims to have “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton helped spark the Trump-Russia investigation, while the FBI reportedly attempted to recruit Deripaska as a potential informant, given that he had previously employed Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, as an adviser. In a post on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday, Trump said of McGonigal: “May he Rot In Hell!”

Starting in 2018, the indictment alleges, McGonigal began working with Shestakov and an “employee and agent of Deripaska” cited as “Agent-1.” The indictment lays out the lengths to which McGonigal and Shestakov allegedly went to dig up dirt on the rival oligarch. The effort began in August 2021, when the two defendants, working with “Agent-1,” drafted and executed a contract with a Cyprus corporation that would in turn pay a New Jersey-based firm—owned by a friend of McGonigal—$41,790 a month and $51,280 upon execution of the contract for “business intelligence services, analysis, and research relevant to the [Russian corporation], its business operations and shareholders.” Between August and November 2021, the New Jersey-based firm received a total of $218,440 in payments wired from a Russian bank, according to the indictment.

As part of the investigation, McGonigal allegedly retained a subcontractor to carry out a “soup to nuts” investigation of the oligarch and the Russian corporation. In October 2021, the subcontractor told McGonigal that a third party had located “dark web” files that revealed “hidden assets valued at more than $500 million” and “other information that McGonigal believed would be valuable to Deripaska.” The indictment further alleges that McGonigal and Shestakov negotiated with “Agent-1” to obtain funds from Deripaska to purchase the dark web files between late October and late November 2021; FBI special agents seized their personal electronic devices on November 21, 2021.

The feud between Deripaska and Potanin dates back to April 2008, when Deripaska’s Rusal purchased a 25% stake in publicly traded Nornickel from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov in a cash-and-stock deal—estimated to be worth $14 billion—that included giving Prokhorov a 14% stake in Rusal. Prokhorov was Potanin’s original partner in Nornickel, with the two men cofounding banking group Oneximbank in 1993 and later acquiring Nornickel through the infamous loans-for-shares scheme in the 1990s—an arrangement in which Potanin and other businessmen provided financial backing for the reelection campaign of Russian president Boris Yeltsin, in return for stakes in state-owned energy and commodities assets obtained at bargain prices if Yeltsin won. (He did.)

Soon after the 2008 deal closed, Deripaska and Potanin clashed over Potanin’s influence over Nornickel’s board, the company’s share buyback plan and purchases of assets from Potanin’s Interros. They first reached a truce that December, when Rusal dropped its legal claim against Nornickel over the company’s share buyback. But the battle had flared up again by August 2010, when Rusal filed a request for arbitration against Potanin’s Interros in the London Court of International Arbitration and launched a website named “Save Norilsk Nickel” the following month.

Another Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich, stepped in two years later to cool the tensions. He and his partners, fellow billionaires Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov, purchased a 6% stake in Nornickel for $1.5 billion in December 2012. Abramovich, Potanin and Deripaska then agreed to form a board with Potanin and Deripaska nominating four members each plus one for Abramovich. The deal, set to last for a decade (it expired on January 1, 2023), also kept Potanin as Nornickel’s CEO and committed Nornickel to a new dividend policy.

But the deal came under strain in 2018, when Potanin attempted to buy part of Abramovich’s shares in Nornickel—a move challenged by Rusal and halted by a London court in June 2018. Abramovich later sold some of his stake to Potanin in early 2019. By August 2020 Potanin was calling the agreement a “relic of the past” in an interview with Reuters.

Things appeared to have calmed down by April 2021, when Rusal stated it was “satisfied” with a decision by Nornickel’s board to buy back shares worth $2 billion. It was around that same time, the U.S. indictment alleges, that Deripaska had begun to seek an investigation into his rival oligarch in the spring of 2021. For his part, Potanin began expanding his empire after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, re-purchasing Russian banking group Rosbank from French firm Société Générale last April and snapping up Russian bank Tinkoff Bank two weeks later, both for undisclosed amounts.

As recently as last July, Potanin was publicly musing about a potential $60 billion merger between Rusal and Nornickel, months before the January 1, 2023 expiration date of the 2012 agreement. But it became a non-starter after Potanin was sanctioned by the U.S. on December 15, 2022. Deripaska had already been sanctioned by the U.S. in April 2018. (Both men have also been sanctioned by the U.K., but the EU has only sanctioned Deripaska while leaving Potanin untouched—potentially due to Europe’s dependence on Nornickel’s nickel and palladium exports.)

The latest salvo in the Deripaska-Potanin fight came on October 21, when Rusal filed a lawsuit in London’s High Court against Potanin. “Rusal’s claims are based on Mr. Potanin’s failure to fulfill his duties as Norilsk Nickel’s managing partner and CEO,” Rusal said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “Under the management of Mr. Potanin, Norilsk Nickel lost a number of assets that played a key role in [the] group’s activities. This resulted in Norilsk Nickel and its shareholders suffering significant losses.” (Potanin owns 37% of Nornickel through his investment holding company Interros, while Deripaska has a 45% stake in publicly traded En+ Group, which in turn owns 26% of Nornickel plus 57% of Rusal.)

In the statement, Rusal also claimed that it “continuously tried to enter in constructive dialogue with Mr. Potanin for an out-of-court settlement” but “these attempts have been unsuccessful.”

Whether that “constructive dialogue” includes Deripaska’s alleged illegal investigation of Potanin’s assets or not, the war between the two oligarchs shows no signs of fading away.

Additional reporting by Elena Berezanskaya.

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Who Got Rich And Who Got Poor This Week


Gautam Adani lost $31 billion in one of the biggest weekly drops ever, while Elon Musk’s fortune rebounded by $28 billion.

By Gabriela Lopez Gomes

Itwas a wild week for the very richest in the world. U.S. stocks ticked up slightly in the past week – the S&P 500 index rose 2.5% and the Nasdaq ended up 4.3%, after the U.S. Commerce Department’s personal consumption expenditure index showed prices rising more slowly last month than they had been. Still two of the top ten richest people in the world had rather unusual weeks, posting one of the biggest gains and one of the biggest losses ever.

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani lost a stunning $31 billion, or 24% of his fortune, while Elon Musk gained nearly as much, thanks to a strong quarterly earnings report. We tracked the change in fortunes from the market close on Friday January 20 through the end of the day Friday January 27.

Here’s how some of the world’s richest people fared this week.

The net worth change is from close of markets Friday, January 27.

#1. Gautam Adani

Net Worth: $96.6 bil 🔴 Down $31.2 bil

Country: India | Source Of Wealth: Adani Group | View profile

Asia’s richest man, Adani is the biggest loser this week after bombshell headlines emerged late Tuesday evening following the release of a 100-page report by short seller Hindenburg Research alleging the “largest con in corporate history,” including claims of stock manipulation and accounting fraud.

Adani started the week as the world’s third richest person, worth $127.8 billion. His fortune fell by $6.5 billion on Wednesday. The Indian stock market was closed Thursday for a holiday. On Friday, the free fall continued, wiping $22.6 billion from his fortune in hours. Though that might seem like a record-breaking one-day collapse for a billionaire, it’s not; Elon Musk’s fortune fell by $24.5 billion a year ago, on Thursday, January 27, 2022.

Adani’s $31.2 billion drop this week dropped him four spots to seventh richest, with a net worth of $96.6 billion as of Friday’s market close. The Hindenburg Research report alleges that the Adani family used dozens of shell companies for stock manipulation and money laundering purposes. Adani Group Chief Financial Officer Jugeshinder Singh dismissed the Hindenburg report, calling it “selective misinformation” in a statement shared with Forbes.

In February last year, Adani overtook fellow Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani to become the richest person in Asia and No. 10 richest in the world, worth just over $90 billion. He zoomed past Warren Buffett later that month to become world’s fifth-wealthiest and moved ahead of Bill Gates in July after the Microsoft cofounder Gates gave $20 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Then in September, Adani briefly became the world’s second-richest person, worth $155 billion, overtaking Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and then-number two Arnault in the same week. He soon dropped back to world’s third richest, still ahead of Bezos, where he remained until this week.

#2. Elon Musk

Net Worth: $181.3 bil 🟢 Up $28.3 bil

Country: United States | Source Of Wealth: Tesla | View profile

As bad as Adani’s week was, Musk’s swung the opposite way. Tesla and Twitter CEO Musk was the biggest winner as Tesla’s stock jumped 33% following a very strong quarterly earnings report released on Wednesday, lifting his fortune by $28.3 billion. Tesla, whose stock has fallen by more than two-thirds in the past year, much of it since Musk announced plans to buy Twitter last April, surprised many by reporting record sales and profits. Investors cheered the news, sending the stock up 11% on Friday and 33% this week. “Long term, I am convinced that Tesla will be the most valuable company on earth,” said Musk on Wednesday’s earnings call. Musk remains the world’s second richest person, behind No. 1 French luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault.

#3. Tobias Lütke

Net Worth: $4.7 bil 🟢 Up $800 mil

Country: Canada | Source Of Wealth: Shopify | View profile

After a year of tech layoffs and sinking stock prices, Shopify’s share price rose nearly 24% in the past week, boosting CEO Tobias Lutke’s fortune by $800 million to $4.7 billion. The 42-year-old owns about 6% of the Canadian multinational, which enables small businesses to create online stores.

The price surge came after Shopify announced a 33% hike to subscription fees on Wednesday, with its basic plan going from $29 to $39 and the advanced plan jumping from $299 to $399 a month. The change will become effective for current users in the next three months.

Technology analyst Richard Tse of National Bank Financial Markets, says the price increase “appears to be a bigger move” by Shopify to increase the acceleration to profitability and have competitive pricing power. (Shopify, which went public in 2015, has yet to post a profit.)

#4. David Vélez

Net Worth: $4.3 bil 🟢 Up $400 mil

Country: Brazil | Source Of Wealth: Nubank | View profile

Vélez, cofounder and CEO of Brazilian online bank Nubank, is up $400 million for the week as U.S. listed stock in NU Holdings increased nearly 15% this week.

The stock rose due to the current interest rate stability in Brazil, says fintech analyst James Friedman of Susquehanna International Group. “Nubank’s stock suffered when interest rates went up last year, and now it’s starting to stabilize because there’s a perception that they are unlikely to rise more,” he says.

Nubank on Thursday announced a $150 million loan from the International Finance Corporation to strengthen its presence in Colombia, the fintech’s third largest market after Brazil and Mexico. The digital lender currently has around 65 million Brazilian customers. “There are good reasons to believe Nubank is the future of banking in Latin America,” says Friedman.


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