Monday, September 10, 2007

Brit Punter Buys Some Bear!

As the New York Post might scream. So who is this Lewis guy? According to the SEC, he’s the man behind Aquarian Investments, and he’s spent $860,403,183 buying 8,096,942 shares in Bear Stearns.

That’s seven per cent. And he’s paid for it out of “working capital.” And the filing says he a “private investor,” based in Lyford Cay. Apparently, he’s from Ingerland. And he’s not the dead boxer.

For our American readers….

Joe Lewis is perhaps the most successful British speculator of modern times. Born above a pub, the Roman Arms, in London’s East End, he left school at 15 to work in his father’s catering business. Early enterprises included tourist restaurants, foreign exchange bureau and also a tour operator running some of London’s first red open-topped buses.
He began playing the stock market in the late 60s, before moving into the money markets during the 70s, discovering a special talent for the currency markets. Lewis relocated to the Bahamas in 1979 - for a lower tax rate, as well as the weather.

For many years he retained the lowest of profiles amongst the wealth-hating Brits, but his developing friendship with the new wave of Irish financiers in the late 80s and early 90s, notably Dermot Desmond and members of the so-called Coolmore mafia, such as JP McManus and John Magnier, encouraged him towards investments that would draw intense media interest. (At least on this side of the Atlantic.)

From an early stage, Lewis is said to have enthusiastically backed young entrepreneurs, such Robert Earl and Daniel Levy, with whom he eventually took over Tottenham Hotspur football club in north London before buying a large holding in Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers.

Other holdings through the years have included stakes in Christies, the auction house, and Autonomy, a search software specialist.

Lewis said to be a keen collector of Picassos.

As for collecting stakes in burnt out Wall St banks…well, this story feels as though it has legs.

Shares in Bear were up two per cent during early trade in New York, having fallen by a third so far this year.

[Note to researchers: Given Bear’s subprime related problems, there may be some confusion over the fact that Lewis has been an investor in an entity called Countrywide Properties. This does not relate to US subprime victim, Countrywide Financial. It’s a chain of British estate agents in which Lewis built a stake. After a protracted takeover stuggle, the business was bought out by Apollo earlier this year.]

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Lunch is for wimps

Lunch is for wimps
It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred from one perception to another.