We’ve been asking around this morning about this Joe Lewis character. You know, the guy whose Cayman Islands hedge fund bought up a huge stake in Bear Stearns in August and September. We wanted something more than the ground breaking news we brought you this morning that he is not, in fact, the dead boxer who was sometimes called The Brown Bomber.
Fortunately, the boys at FT Alphaville provided a guide to Lewis for American readers. “Joe Lewis is perhaps the most successful British speculator of modern times,” FT Alphaville reports. “Born above a pub, the Roman Arms, in London’s East End, he left school at 15 to work in his father’s catering business. Early enterprises included tourist restaurants, foreign exchange bureau and also a tour operator running some of London’s first red open-topped buses.”
More on Lewis after the jump.
He began playing the stock market in the late 60s, before moving into the money markets during the 70s, discovering a special talent for the currency markets. Lewis relocated to the Bahamas in 1979 - for a lower tax rate, as well as the weather.
For many years he retained the lowest of profiles amongst the wealth-hating Brits, but his developing friendship with the new wave of Irish financiers in the late 80s and early 90s, notably Dermot Desmond and members of the so-called Coolmore mafia, such as JP McManus and John Magnier, encouraged him towards investments that would draw intense media interest. (At least on this side of the Atlantic.)
From an early stage, Lewis is said to have enthusiastically backed young entrepreneurs, such Robert Earl and Daniel Levy, with whom he eventually took over Tottenham Hotspur football club in north London before buying a large holding in Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers.
Other holdings through the years have included stakes in Christies, the auction house, and Autonomy, a search software specialist.
They also report that Lewis is rumored to have a collection of Picassos, and that he owns a piece of a company called Countrywide that is not Countrywide Financial.
Brit Punter Buys Some Bear! [FT Alphaville]