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U.K. Property’s Most Famous Names Are Bankrolling The 2017 General Election


Some of the best-known individuals in property are putting major financial backing into the 2017 U.K. General Election campaign.

Political parties are obliged to make public any donations they receive of £7,500 or more. The figures are in for donations received by the parties in the first month after Theresa May called a snap election on 18 April.

The top 10 names alone have provided more than £1M of funding, more than 10% of the total raised by the three main political parties.

Property donors are overwhelmingly supporting the Conservative party, but one opportunity fund manager is providing a huge slice of the funding for the Liberal Democrats, the party that is strongly advocating for the U.K. to stay in the European Union.

Here are the 10 largest individual property donors stumping up to finance what is likely to be a seminal election for the U.K. 

1. John Bloor - Conservatives, £400K

Bloor is the owner of Bloor Homes, the Midlands-based housebuilder that is one of the largest private developers in the U.K., and his wealth was estimated at £1.25B in this year’s Sunday Times Rich List. He started life as a plasterer and built his business from there, including buying Triumph motorcycles out of bankruptcy and reviving the famous marque.

2. David Rowland - Conservatives, £200K

It is not surprising to see Rowland’s name in this list — he is one of the largest donors to the Conservative party in the last decade, giving £2.8M in a one-year period spanning 2009 and 2010. He is estimated to be worth £730M and is in the process of setting up his own bank, Redwood. He made his money in property in the 1970s, partly through buying listed companies and selling off the undervalued property.

3. Investors in Private Capital Ltd. - Conservatives, £150K

Jamie Reuben — son of David Reuben, who along with his brother Simon made his fortune in property and aluminium — is a director for Investors in Private Capital. With fortunes of £13.1B, the trio are consistently among the top three wealthiest people in Britain. Jamie has previously campaigned for Boris Johnson in his bid for Mayor of London.

4. Michael Freeman - Conservatives, £100K

Freeman, who co-founded Argent — the company behind the now-famous Kings Cross Central development — with his brother Peter, has been a long-term supporter of the Conservatives. He was a backer of one of the campaigns for the U.K. to leave the EU.

5. Robert Laurence - Liberal Democrats, £50K

The only person in the top 10 who did not give to the Conservatives, Laurence donated £50K to the Liberal Democrats in May, which means that on his own he has provided more than 10% of the party’s campaign funding post the calling of the election. He was one of 50 U.K. business figures who signed an open letter to the Times supporting the Lib Dems’ position of remaining in the EU. The opportunity fund he started, Resolution Property, is now backed by Chinese investor Fosun.

6. Clerewell, owned by Sir Michael Heller - Conservatives, £50K

Sir Michael Heller started London & Associated Properties in 1971, and floated it in 1977. It owns retail properties across the U.K., the most famous of which is probably the newly gentrified Brixton market.

7. Broadland Properties - Conservatives, £50K (and £50K in March)

There are some old assets (and old people) on this list but none as old as Hever Castle, built in 1270 and the childhood home of future queen Anne Boleyn. Broadland Properties, the company of the Guthrie family, owns assets in the U.K., such as Hever, and also in Poland.

8. Thakeham Homes - Conservatives, £50K

South East housebuilder Thakeham was started in 2003 by Managing Director Rob Broughton, and is a new addition to the Conservatives’ roster of property donors.

9. Jeremy Knight-Adams - Conservatives, £50K

Midlands-based investor and developer Knight-Adams is another property figure who donated to the campaign to leave the EU. His companies have owned assets including the Bodycraft and Granary building in Worcester.

=10. Roger Orf - Conservatives, £25K

Orf is one of the best-known figures in the world of property private equity, heading up the European business of Apollo Global Management. He is also a well-known Conservative donor, and was named by the party in 2014 as one of the Leader’s Group, major party donors who gave at least £50K/year and were able to dine with senior party figures, including then-Prime Minister David Cameron.

=10. Gross-Hill Properties, owned by Michael Gross - Conservatives, £25K

Accounts for the company show that the owner is Michael Gross, the investor and developer best known for his holdings around Euston Station through the company Sydney & London. The company submitted a joint proposal with U.S. giant The Related Cos. in 2014 to undertake a £5.3B redevelopment of the station in a process that is still ongoing.

Significant others in 2017 …

Although he has not made a donation since the election was called, records show that Leo Noe, well-known investor and founder of REIT Asset Management, was one of the largest individual Conservative Party donors in the first quarter of the year, coughing up £130K. Other significant donors to the party included Westfield Europe, the London-based arm of Aussie giant Westfield, which donated £50K; and Bruce Ritchie’s Residential Land, which donated £22K.

Again, a single property investor provided a major chunk of the Lib Dems’s funding this year to-date, to the tune of £50K. Parabola Capital is a company that invests in Edinburgh and Newcastle and was set up by Peter Millican, the retail entrepreneur who developed Kings Place, the arts and office scheme in Kings Cros that is the home of the Guardian newspaper. A straight-up fight with neighbouring developer Freeman over Brexit it is, then.