Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#268 Natie Kirsh $6.24B

Random fact: Bought London's Tower 42 for $443 million in 2011.

Overview

Kirsh controls Kirsh Group, a closely held conglomerate with a 75 percent stake in food supply business Jetro Holdings. The College Point, New York-based business has more than 115 Jetro Cash & Carry and Restaurant Depot stores across the U.S. He also has private equity investments and property on four continents.

As of April 21, 2018:
Last change -$24.2M (-0.4%)
YTD change -$150M (-2.4%)
Industry Food & Beverage
Biggest asset Jetro Holdings
Citizenship South Africa
Age 86
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Natie Kirsh's net worth of $6.24B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

0%
of the GDP of the United States
0%
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
0%
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
0%
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
0%
of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Kirsh's fortune is derived from a 75 percent stake in Jetro Holdings, a New York-based company that manages two U.S. wholesale grocery businesses: Jetro Cash & Carry and Restaurant Depot. The groceries had revenue of more than $9 billion and more than $700 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2014, according to financial statements shown to Bloomberg.

Jetro and Restaurant Depot operate as sister businesses and their combined value is calculated using the average enterprise value-to-sales, enterprise value-to-Ebitda and price-to-earnings multiples of three publicly traded peer companies: Costco Wholesale, Kroger and Loblaw Companies.

Bloomberg has seen the consolidated results for the businesses from 2012 through 2014, and since then has applied a growth rate of between 5 and 8 percent to the company's revenue and Ebitda, in line with past performance and the performance of peers. Through Kirsh Group he controls 49 percent of Sydney-based Abacus Property Group, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, and about 10 percent of Amsterdam-based gym chain, Holmes Place.

The billionaire has real estate on four continents, including London's first office skyscraper, Tower 42, and Jandakot Airport in Perth, Australia. These properties are valued using the average dollar-per-square foot rate of recent similar transactions or based on information provided by a source close to Kirsh in 2013. Those values have been adjusted in line with property trends in the corresponding region and asset class using commercial property indices published by National Australia Bank.

Representatives at the billionaire's family office declined to comment when contacted in February 2018.

Biography

Birthdate: 1/6/1932
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: University of The Witwatersrand, Bachelor's Degree, Commerce

Nathan "Natie" Kirsh was born in 1932 and raised in Potchefstroom, South Africa, where his family manufactured sorghum-malt. He took over after graduating from the University of Witwatersrand in 1952. He started his own business in nearby Swaziland at age 26, leaving the family company in the hands of his younger brother.

Using a 1,200 pound inheritance from his father and additional funding from contacts at home, Kirsh began milling corn and malt. His company later expanded into a conglomerate which helped reduce the country's dependence on South Africa for food staples. Through an agreement with the government, Kirsh's company was obligated to buy all corn grown in Swaziland and became its only importer of the crop. He maintained close ties with the king and served as chairman of Swaziland's electricity board for 23 years, helping to build the country's power grid and to break down racial segregation at its sporting clubs. Kirsh began eyeing South Africa for a new venture and acquired a wholesale food operation in 1970. Once in control, he transformed it into a cash and carry business that served the country's black-owned local grocery stores.

He expanded into real estate, selling 49 percent of the conglomerate to insurance company Sanlam in 1984. Saddled with real estate loans, he lost most of his fortune in South Africa's 1980s economic crisis, keeping only Jetro, a cash and carry outpost in Brooklyn, New York, that he opened in 1975. At the time, there were just five Jetros operating in major cities along the east coast. Kirsh focused on providing fresh goods at low prices and capitalized on the unwillingness of large distributors to service small shops. He added the Restaurant Depot concept in 1994.

There are more than 130 Restaurant Depots and 10 Jetro locations across the United States, according to the company's website in March 2018. He sold 27 percent of the company in 2004 to two private equity firms, New York-based CCMP Capital Advisors and Los Angeles-based Leonard Green & Partners. He gave 10 percent of the company to executives and employees. In 2012, he issued a $1 billion private placement of debt, in part to pay a one-time shareholder dividend, and borrowed another $1.4 billion a year later to buy back about half of the interest held by the private equity partners, according to an industry source familiar with the transactions who asked not to be identified because the information is private. CCMP spokeswoman Allison Cole declined to comment. Representatives for Leonard Green didn't respond to requests for comment.

Kirsh has also accumulated a collection of real estate assets to help hedge against inflation.

Milestones
  • 1959 With 1,200 pound inheritance, begins first business venture in Swaziland.
  • 1970 Outgrows original Swaziland business, looks to expand in South Africa.
  • 1984 Sells 49 percent of South African business to Sanlam; a fateful decision.
  • 1985 Loses business to Sanlam in credit squeeze during economic crisis.
  • 1985 Moves to the U.S. to restart his investment career with Jetro.
  • 1995 Opens his first Restaurant Depot in New York, serving local restaurateurs.
  • 2004 Sells 27 percent of Jetro/Restaurant Depot to CCMP and Leonard Green.
  • 2009 Earns more than $40 million with run on Minerva Property Management.
  • 2011 Acquires Tower 42, his first high profile real estate holding in London.
  • 2012 Issues $1 billion private placement debt to pay one-time dividend.