Moise Safra, Brazilian Billionaire Banker, Dies at 80

(Corrects Moise Safra’s age in headline, first paragraph of story published June 16.)

Moise Safra, a Brazilian billionaire with roots in Syria who built with his family an international banking and investment empire, has died. He was 80.

He died on June 14 at Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, according to a hospital employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to comment. He had suffered from complications of Parkinson’s disease.

Safra was one of eight children from a family of Jewish financiers with roots in mid-19th century Aleppo, Syria. His father, Jacob Safra, moved to Brazil after World War II to continue the family tradition. Working with his father and brother, Joseph, Moise helped build a bank that brought their Middle Eastern financial expertise to the Brazilian market.

At the time of his death, Moise Safra had a net worth of $3.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Today, Joseph Safra oversees Sao Paulo-based Banco Safra SA, Brazil’s eighth-largest bank, the flagship of the family’s financial empire. He has a net worth of $13.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Another brother, Edmond, went to New York to found Republic National Bank. In 1999, he sold Republic New York Corp. to HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), the U.K.’s largest bank at the time, for $10.3 billion. Soon after, Edmond Safra died in a fire in his home in Monaco.

Sells Stake

In 1998, Moise Safra founded a family office, M. Safra & Co., with headquarters in New York and Sao Paulo, separate from the family banking empire, according to the group’s website. He left the family business completely in 2006, selling his 50 percent stake in the financial conglomerate to his billionaire brother Joseph.

Last year Moise Safra bought a 40 percent stake in New York’s General Motors (GM) building in a partnership with Chinese real estate billionaire Zhang Xin, after paying about $809 million in 2012 for the Plantation Place office block in London.

Safra’s survivors include his wife, Chella Cohen Safra, and five children.

He was buried at the Cemiterio Israelita do Butanta in Sao Paulo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Schmidt in Sao Paulo at bschmidt16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Charles W. Stevens at cstevens@bloomberg.net Sylvia Wier

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