Bear Stearns: Who the Hell is Joe Lewis?

On the news this morning that billionaire Joe Lewis is buying 7% of brokerage firms Bear Stearns, most people’s reaction will be a variant on something like “Who?”. The Telegraph of London has a nice bluffer’s overview of the 70-year-old Mr. Lewis, who is the founder of the Tavistock Group and the 369th richest person in the world (according to Forbes).

Born in the East End of London, Mr Lewis made his initial wealth after leaving school early to help his family’s expanding catering business. After a period selling luxury goods to tourists, he moved into foreign currency dealing in the 1970s.

…The Tavistock Group has grown to encompass a broad portfolio of interests in over 170 companies in 15 countries, including football clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Glasgow Rangers and AEK Athens. The company recently sold its currency trading firm HotSpot FX for $77m.

Mr Lewis is a major investor in ENIC Sports PLC, run by Daniel Levy, the Chairman of Tottenham, whose father is a close friend of the billionaire.

In 2005, Mr Lewis was involved with a group of investors who sold their stake in house builder Countryside Properties for a profit of about £10m.

…Among his property holdings are 3,600 acres in the Bahamas and 8,000 acres in Florida.

Mr Lewis’s main hobby is golf and he is good friends with the likes of Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. Mr Woods has reputedly stayed on Mr Lewis’s yacht while competing in the Open Championship in Scotland.

Both Mr Woods and Mr Els are currently collaborating with Lewis in the development of a new gold [sic] community in the Bahamas called the Albany Golf & Beach Club.

Every March, Mr Lewis hosts the Tavistock Cup charity golf tournament in Florida, raising $500,000. He owns the two clubs that compete – the Lake Nona club and the Isleworth club.

[via Telegraph]