Private equity boss John Grayken (62) was born in the suburbs of Boston in the US but claims a place on the Irish Rich List due to his decision to renounce his US citizenship in the 1990s for tax purposes, taking Irish citizenship instead. Many years later, his Texas-based firm Lone Star became one of the best-known vulture funds to swoop in on Irish assets during the recession.
The notoriously secretive Grayken has made billions by buying distressed property assets in countries experiencing economic turmoil and then flipping the assets for a profit. According to Forbes, he has amassed a fortune of $6.6bn (€5.75bn), making him the 251st richest person on the planet. A hard-hitting profile of Grayken in the magazine described him as one of the most successful and most loathed people in the private equity business, noting that he has done little to counter bad press.
Grayken runs his vast empire from the UK, where he owns a mansion in Chelsea, purchased for €66m through a Bermuda company. It boasts nine bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a glass elevator, basement pool, cinema and Japanese water feature. At one time he also owned a 15-bedroom house on 20 acres outside of London that was featured in the 1976 horror film The Omen. Other properties include a massive Swiss estate overlooking Lake Geneva.
Since 1995, Grakyen has raised 17 funds and now manages $70bn (€61bn) in assets. Lone Star was among the biggest buyers of loans and assets sold off by the Irish banks and Nama since the financial crisis. It is estimated to have invested €5bn in Irish assets in the past four years across 10 transactions. More recently it has partnered with a handful of high-profile Irish developers including Joe O'Reilly's Castlethorn Construction, and Sean Mulryan's Ballymore Group. In September, it hired stockbroking firm Davy to help with plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of a new Irish housebuilder that could raise more than €300m.
Lone Star was at the centre of a controversy over vulture funds buying Irish loans last year when it won the race to acquire Permanent TSB's €2.2bn 'Project Glas' portfolio of non-performing home loans. The assets Lone Star buys are managed by Hudson Advisors, a firm also based in Dallas that Grayken owns with 850 employees.