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May 25, 2017

Tavistock Group Head

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A 79-year old magnate with a US$5.4B business empire

Joseph C. Lewis is a 79-year-old businessman originally from Bow, East London, with a total net worth of some US$5.4 billion according to business magazine Forbes, who in 2015 placed him at 277 on their annual list of the planet's most wealthy people and 248 currently.

His business empire encompasses a wide range of investments in real estate, restaurants and sports facilities among other enterprises under the umbrella of Tavistock Group — a shareholder of Argentine Pampa Energía energy company.

Known as Joe, Lewis was born in 1937 and raised above the “Roman Arms” pub in Bow. He started his career working as a waiter with his father's family catering company Tavistock Banqueting (later Hanover Grand group) having left secondary school aged 15.

After taking over general management of the company and overseeing its rise into a successful catering business, offering themed events for UK residents and tourists, Lewis sold the company — though not the Tavistock brand itself — and with the substantial profits moved to the Bahamas in 1979.

He then became heavily involved in the foreign currency exchange (FX) markets, following the lifting of currency controls worldwide and the resulting floatation of international currencies on global markets.

Over the ensuing years he made repeatedly astute calculations regarding the future direction of various currency markets.

During this period, Lewis broached international headlines more than once, including notably in 1992 when he successfully won a fortune on the FX market by betting against the stability of the British Pound Sterling within the European Exchange Rate Mechanism moments before it fell out of the market with enormous losses — a day thereafter nicknamed “Black Wednesday” by stockbrokers.

Asked about this speculation versus his native currency and the government-affiliated Bank of England, Lewis said his success in gambling against the British pound only confirmed his own worldview.

“All it proved was that the markets were right and the politicians were wrong. It's part of making a market. It's the free flow of cash around the world,” he said.

MR MULTIFARIOUS

In line with his massive personal fortune, Lewis’s present-day assets and business empire span multiple continents and a plethora of different investments.

Described previously by commentators as a “tax exile,” Lewis currently owns multiple expansive properties in the Bahamas - where he reportedly spends the majority of his time at a luxury estate — plus some 12,000 hectares in El Bolsón.

Elusive in his personal life, he rarely gives interviews. In one of his only documented interviews with the New York Times, he offered a glimpse into his tendency to avoid media attention.

“I really feel that if one is successful, one of the rewards of your success is the quiet enjoyment of it ... Being on the front page of newspapers doesn’t allow that.”

Yet while the wealth amassed largely through FX trading appears to merit quiet enjoyment for Lewis itself, the range of operations that ultimately trace back to him extend far beyond the financial realm, largely under the auspices of Tavistock Group, his investment group which boasts “investments in more than 200 companies across 11 countries,” according to the company website.

Herald with online media

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