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Nathan Kirsh

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Nathan Kirsh

Nathan Kirsh (born 6 January 1932) is a South African business magnate, with a property empire spanning the United Kingdom, Swaziland and Australia. He carries a Swazi passport. However, he also has residency status in the United Kingdom and the United States. He and his wife Frances Herr have one son and two daughters.[1]

Education

Kirsh obtained a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Witwatersrand and holds an Honorary Doctor of Law at the University of Swaziland.

Commercial

Nathan Kirsh left South Africa permanently for Swaziland in 1986 after a business partnership between his company, Kirsh Industries, and Sanlam, one of South Africa’s leading financial services groups, unravelled.[2]

His main holding group, Kirsh Holdings Group, owns Swazi Plaza Properties – his biggest interest in that country – in a 50/50 partnership with the government-owned Swaziland Industrial Development Company (SIDC). Kirsh owns Ki Corporation, a Liberian-domiciled company that is held by the Eurona Foundation. Through Kifin Limited, part of Ki Corporation, Kirsh holds a 29.9% stake in London-based property developer Minerva (property firm).[3] Kirsh recently made British headlines for an attempted takeover bid of Minerva (property firm),[4] although he pulled out in early January 2010. “The offer was made at 50p a share in cash, valuing Minerva at about £85m, and needed 50 per cent of stock.” [5] However, the offer was considered to undervalue the company. The Eurona Foundation is a trust organised in Liechtenstein. Kirsh and Prince Michael von Liechtenstein are the two trustees of the foundation.[6] The Eurona Foundation also majority owns (84.5%) another of Kirsh’s companies, Mira Mag, which in turn owns a significant stake in Israeli security company, Magal Security Systems.[7]

Kirsh’s companies are registered in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands and Liberia, listed on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s tax-haven “Grey list”.[8]

KiFin Limited’s deputy chairman is Ron Sandler, the government-appointed Non-Executive Chairman of Northern Rock and advisor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Sandler told The Independent that he was a “sounding board” and advisor to Nathan Kirsh.[9]

As of 2012, Kirsh has a 63 percent stake in Jetro Holdings, a holding company that owns 86 Restaurant Depot stores plus 10 Jetro Cash & Carry stores. It is believed that the company earned $6.5 billion in revenue over the last year.[10] On or around the time of his purchase of Restaurant Depot, Kirsh solicited capital from Warren Buffett, but Buffett turned him down.[11]

Since 2012, Kirsh has continued to build out his real estate empire. According to Kirsh, real estate "is the only sector where 'stupid people' can make money."[12]

Family

Kirsh was born into a Jewish family. His son, an Oxford University law graduate gave up being an attorney to go into business for himself. He also appears as a fellow trustee on a number of his father’s companies, including Ki Corporation and Magal Security Services. Kirsh’s two daughters and son also live in New York.

Kirsh’s younger brother, Issie Kirsh, was also based in Swaziland at the same time as Nathan. Today Issie is the chair of South African company, Primedia Ltd, which owns Radio 702, among other media outlets. Issie’s son William is the CEO of Primedia. Issie also founded RAM FM (West Bank), a radio station designed to encourage peace in the Middle East. It had offices in Ramallah and Jerusalem before being shut down in August 2008.

Controversies

Magal Securities

Nathan Kirsh is the largest shareholder of Magal Security Systems, with a beneficial ownership of 24.2%. He is also a director of the company.[13]

Magal Security Systems develops and supplies control systems and intrusion detection systems and is the main supplier of electronic fences for the controversial security fence project in the West Bank. Magal won 80% of the bids published by the Israeli Ministry of Defence for the installation of intrusion detection systems along the security fence.[14]

The company has been heavily criticized by several NGO bodies, which have expressed concern that the company is involved in constructing the security fence which was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in July 2004.[15]

Additionally, the two Danish financial institutions, the Danish Bank (Danske Bank) and the Pensioner Bank (PKA) withdrew all of their investments from Magal Security Systems (and another Israeli security company called Elbit Systems) at the beginning of 2010 for their role in the construction of the fence.[16]

The decision came after human rights groups and boycott campaigns declared the security fence to be in violation of an advisory ruling made by the Hague International Court.[17]

References

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