Fayez Sarofim, The Egypt-Born, Texas Billionaire, Made A Fortune Betting On America’s Blue Chip Entrepreneurs

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Billionaire money manager Faiz Sarofim died on Saturday at the age of 93 at his home in Houston.

“I have always claimed that it took someone from abroad to recognize the true potential in this country,” Faiz Shalabi Sarofim said in his first interview. forbes magazine in 1969. At that time Serophim – 41 at that time – was a man with money. The Native Egyptians were known as The Sphinx for their indomitable demeanor and their calm, unshakeable belief in American exceptionalism. They bought blue chip stocks like P&G, Coca-Cola
Philip Morris was an early investor in Intel
And Teledyne, and he believed wholeheartedly in the economic power of the United States not only to make money, but to combine it.

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“America is still a relatively young nation among industrialized nations. It can still step up efforts to become more competitive through technology,” he said at the time. “It’s blessed with natural resources and, equally important, brainpower. And the U.S. political system is still the most stable.”

His Coptic Christian family left their native Egypt after the government ordered Serophim’s wealthy father to sell his land or have it confiscated by the state. He arrived in the US in 1946 and after school at UC Berkeley and Harvard, Owl FaZe entered finance and developed a knack for stockpicking.

With $100,000 from Dad, he founded Fayez Sarofim & Co in 1958. launched. With startup capital, his father advised him: “He told me not to take a salary, but to put any profits back into the business so as to give customers. The best possible service. Profits will come later.”

This fish-out-of-water conviction of American extravagance performed well among oil tycoons in his hometown of Houston, where he clung to his London-tailored three-piece suit despite the heat and humidity. But it was his first wife, Louisa Studd—a Grace Kelly lookalike and niece of George Brown, one of the founders of Brown & Root’s oilfield services firm, which is now a subsidiary of Halliburton.
– Who really opened the doors for Serophim. An early coup was Rice University’s management of a $65 million endowment.

By 1969 he had over 400 customers and $1.2 billion under management. In the mid-1970s, he bravely bought shares at great discounts. By 1980 the wealth had grown to $7 billion. They held oil stocks for a very long time when they crashed in the early 1980s. But he kept the faith, and in a 1980 Forbes cover story lamented that the market was weighed down by “too much pessimism”.

Of course, his belief in America and entrepreneurial capitalism was right. “The most important thing is to bet on people,” he once said. Entrepreneurs simply “start to deliver better investment results when they have their money — and their ego — on the line.” Their average stock holding period of 5 years was longer than that of their flaky peers.

In 1987 he was running on $15 billion and appeared in the Forbes 400 for the first time with a net worth of $300 million. Their worst day was “Marlborough Friday” in 1992 when the company slashed prices for smoking and caused a loss of $475 million to Serofim’s fund. He later made up for this by moving customers away from Enron. Today, assets under management top $30 billionAnd son Christopher Sarofim runs the company.

Serofim spent a lot of money on the divorce. In 1989, Louisa (who bore him two children) filed for divorce after learning that he was the last person in Houston’s Tony River Oaks neighborhood to learn that FaZe had an affair with one of his employees, Linda Hicks. with whom Serophim had three more children. , He settled with Luisa in 1990 for over $100 million.

Although he bought Linda a 22,000-square-foot mansion on River Oaks Boulevard, their subsequent marriage ended in 1996 and cost at least $60 million. Once the ladies man, Serofim raised eyebrows around town when he remarried in 2015 to Susan Cron, the mother of his son Philip’s (now ex) wife Lori, herself the ex-wife of Houston oil tycoon Tracy Cron.

His passion (besides spending an afternoon in a haze of cigar smoke) crowned club in the city of Houston) was art. He began buying in the 1960s and produced a collection including masterpieces by John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Willem de Koonig. In his office he placed a painting of the Christ Crucifixion of El Greco on the wall next to a Picasso and Rothko. Sarofim’s last major philanthropic gift was $75 million for the recently completed expansion of Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

That’s right what was said to be Serophim’s favorite TV show wheel of Fortune, which he loved watching at home with his kids, yet still wearing the three-piece suit of the day. Growing up in timeless Egypt, the experience of being a Christian in a Muslim country, seeing his family compelled to sell their ancestral land, Serophim had a profound vision to learn that America was indeed blessed by fate, but Didn’t always appreciate it.

For that first story from 1969, Forbes The journalists asked Serophim, “How did you come so early?” His answer remains relevant more than half a century later. Because he was a foreigner, he said, he simply didn’t worry about some of the “problems” that plague so many American money managers. “At every turn during my ten years of business,” he said, “there has been a multitude of skeptics—worriers worried for fear of lurking disaster. But look at what has actually happened and promises to be. ” In fact, America has survived and thrived after every bear market so far, and will again.

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Credit: www.forbes.com /

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