Bloomberg Billionaires Index

View profiles for each of the world’s 500 richest people, see the biggest movers, and compare fortunes or track returns.

#258 Natie Kirsh $6.18B

Random fact: Marched in the 2012 Olympic Ceremony with Swaziland's athletes.

Overview

Kirsh controls London-based Kirsh Group, a closely held conglomerate with a 75 percent stake in commercial food supply business Jetro Holdings. New York-based Jetro had revenue of more than $9 billion in 2014 from more than 100 Jetro Cash & Carry and Restaurant Depot stores. He also has private equity investments and property on four continents.

As of July 26, 2017:
Last change +$35.1M (+0.6%)
YTD change +$431M (+7.5%)
Industry Food & Beverage
Biggest asset Jetro Holdings
Citizenship South Africa
Age 85
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Natie Kirsh's net worth of $6.18B 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
0
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 his control of closely held Jetro Holdings, a New York-based company that manages two U.S. wholesale grocery businesses: Jetro Cash & Carry and Restaurant Depot. Jetro had revenue of more than $9 billion in 2014 and more than $700 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to a person familiar with the company's performance who asked not to be identified because the figures are private.

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 peers: Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods, and Kroger. On July 14, 2015 Safeway was removed as a comparison and replaced by Kroger. Kirsh borrowed more than $2 billion during 2012 and 2014, to refinance short-term debt, pay a one-time dividend to shareholders and repurchase shares from investors CCMP Capital Advisors and Leonard Green & Partners. The billionaire controls about 75 percent of the business and has interests in at least two publicly traded companies, including 49 percent of Sydney-based Abacus Property Group, a real estate investment trust, and a 4 percent stake in Magal Security Systems, a maker of computerized security systems based in Yehud, Israel.

He has minority interests in Crest JMT Leather, a tannery, and pipe maker KiTech Industries, which are valued at one-times sales. He also has a controlling stake in Holmes Place, an Amsterdam-based fitness chain, which is valued using the per-gym value indicated in the 2015 sale of the Virgin Active chain, according to an April 16, 2015 Bloomberg news report. These interests are included under Kirsh Group Investments.

Kirsh owns real estate on four continents, including London's first office skyscraper, Tower 42, and Jandakot Airport in Perth, Australia.

Biography

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

Nathan "Natie" Kirsh was born in 1932 and raised in Potchestroom, 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 and 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 it 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.

Today, there are more than 90 Restaurant Depots and 10 Jetros across the country that had revenue of more than $8 billion in 2013. Kirsh is looking to add wine to the Restaurant Depot product mix and take Jetro into new markets, such as Latin America. 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 indentified 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.