Moise Safra, the Jewish Brazilian billionaire with roots in Syria who built with his family an international banking and investment empire, has passed away. He was 79.
He was niftar on June 14 at Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. He had suffered from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Safra was one of eight children from a family of Jewish financiers with roots in mid-19th century Aleppo, Syria. His father, Jacob Safra, moved to Brazil after World War II to continue the family tradition. Working with his father and brother, Joseph, Moise helped build a bank that brought their Middle Eastern financial expertise to the Brazilian market.
At the time of his death, Moise Safra had a net worth of $3.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Today, Joseph Safra oversees Sao Paulo-based Banco Safra SA, Brazil’s eighth-largest bank, the flagship of the family’s financial empire. He has a net worth of $13.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Another brother, Edmond, went to New York to found Republic National Bank. In 1999, he sold Republic New York Corp. to HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), the U.K.’s largest bank at the time, for $10.3 billion. Soon after, Edmond Safra died in a fire in his home in Monaco.
In 1998, Moise Safra founded a family office, M. Safra & Co., with headquarters in New York and Sao Paulo, separate from the family banking empire, according to the group’s website. He left the family business completely in 2006, selling his 50 percent stake in the financial conglomerate to his billionaire brother Joseph.
Last year Moise Safra bought a 40 percent stake in New York’s General Motors (GM) building in a partnership with Chinese real estate billionaire Zhang Xin, after paying about $809 million in 2012 for the Plantation Place office block in London.
Safra’s survivors include his wife, Chella Cohen Safra, and five children.
He was buried at the Cemiterio Israelita do Butanta in Sao Paulo.