Belfast Telegraph

Hard times for Mayfair's Grand Duke

We look at the empire of the sixth Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, who spent his childhood in Fermanagh

So the Duke of Westminster has fallen on hard times?

Well, sort of. His property empire, Grosvenor Estates, which owns swaths of London's Mayfair and Belgravia, didn't pay him a dividend last year, according to the company's latest accounts.

He's on his uppers then?

Not exactly. Gerald Grosvenor, the sixth Duke of Westminster, has an estimated £7bn pile making him the UK's fourth-richest man, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

How did he get hold of half of Mayfair?

In 1677, his ancestor, Sir Thomas Grosvenor, married Mary Davies, who had inherited 500 acres of land north of the Thames to the west of the City of London. The Grosvenors then developed the northern part - now known as Mayfair - in the 1720s before they moved south to Belgravia.

How's the business doing?

Not bad. Underlying profits rose 26% to £80.8m last year, while in London it more than doubled profits to £16.2m, helped by the seemingly bullet-proof status of luxury residential flats. The firm added £1.2bn to its development pipeline last year, of which around £800m is in the capital.

We don't hear much from them

They're a privately owned business. Grosvenor likes it that way as they don't have to follow the crowd. Shareholder funds have also climbed back to £2.9bn, the level they were before the credit crunch struck in 2007.

What about the Budget?

They're not overjoyed at the Chancellor jacking up stamp duty on houses worth more than £2m to 15% if bought through a company. Grosvenor - which spends millions buying up and renovating homes in London - risks being dragged into the net.

Are they just a London player?

They've diversified in recent years. Less than half of their £5.8bn in directly owned assets is in the UK and Ireland, which they hope will give them some insulation in a tough economic climate.

Belfast Telegraph

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