Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Candy brothers - Candyscape - Benetti - 44.76metre - 1994

The superyacht Candyscape is owned by Nick and Christian Candy.

Christian Candy and Nick Candy are British businessmen specialising in the luxury housing market. They were educated in Epsom College, in Epsom, Surrey. In 1995 brothers Nick and Christian bought their first property, a one-bedroom flat in Redcliffe Square, Earls Court, London. Using a £6,000 loan from their grandmother, the brothers renovated the £122,000 apartment while living in it. Eighteen months later they sold it for £172,000. The brothers are of Greek descent.

In their spare time, between 1995 and 1999, the brothers began doing up flats, gradually working their way up the property ladder. Eventually the brothers were able to give up their day jobs and establish Candy & Candy. Twelve years later, a consortium led by Nick and Christian has just purchased Chelsea Barracks, one of the most prestigious chunks of real estate in London. paying an estimated sum of £900m for the 13-acre (53,000 m2) site between Sloane Square and the Thames. With this sale, the brothers are sitting on three of the most exciting private developments in the world. With flats reportedly ranging from £20-£100m, One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge promises to be the most expensive development in British history; while planning permission to turn the former Middlesex Hospital north of Oxford Street into "NoHo Square", an apartment and commercial complex worth close to £1.5bn, puts the brothers in control of 20 acres (81,000 m2) of London, most of it in Westminster. Globally, the value of their portfolio was estimated at £9,000,000,000.

On 1 February 2008 they took possession of Chelsea Barracks in a deal which involved them and the government of Qatar paying the Ministry of Defence ₤900 million.

An article by : :

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) -- A black Maybach draws to a halt one morning in July, and two men step out onto the runway at London’s Biggin Hill Airport. Nick and Christian Candy ascend the stairs to their private jet, remove their Berluti shoes to safeguard the silk-and-wool carpet and settle in for the flight to Tuscany, where they’re overseeing the completion of the decks and interior of their new yacht, Candyscape II.

By lunchtime, the brothers are on the Tyrrhenian Sea near Viareggio, Italy, inspecting the boat with a team from Candy & Candy Ltd., their London-based interior design company. The living room features a custom-made, glass player piano activated by remote. Showers have waterproof plasma-TV screens built into their marble walls, while a dressing room decorated in eel skin has a mirror that conceals a camera and a screen, so guests can see time-delayed images of themselves from all angles.

“This will be the best 62-meter yacht literally anywhere in the world,” says Chris Candy, 35. Nick is 36.

In time for dinner, their jet whisks the British-born brothers to Monaco, where they live together in a 17,500-square- foot (1,626-square-meter), 30-room duplex penthouse that formerly belonged to financier Edmond Safra. He died there in a fire for which his nurse was jailed.

International property adviser Savills Plc valued the duplex penthouse in June at 192 million euros ($274 million).

“It’s certainly within the top 10 and probably the top 5 best penthouses in the world,” says Michael Sharpe-Neal, senior director in Savills’s appraisal department.

Billionaire Clients

The Candys see their yacht and apartment as showcases for the style they can provide their billionaire clients. Born into a middle-class suburban family, the brothers rode to riches as developers and designers of high-end London homes. They took advantage of a property boom that saw prices for the city’s most-expensive pads rise to 6,000 pounds ($9,800) per square foot in 2008 from 2,000 pounds in 2001, according to London- based property consultant Knight Frank LLP.

Then came the crash. The FTSE All-Share Real Estate Index fell 67 percent from the end of 2006 to Sept. 3, while shares of Barratt Developments Plc, the U.K.’s largest homebuilder by volume, sank 80 percent. In the six months after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. failed in September 2008, almost no London homes were sold in the so-called super-prime market, where houses start at 10 million pounds.

In the first seven months of 2009, 26 10-million-pound-plus homes sold, compared with 75 for all of 2008 and 119 in 2007, according to Savills.

Super-Prime Homes

In one mid-summer deal, Russian oil tycoon Chalva Tchigirinski sold Hugh House on central London’s Eaton Square to an undisclosed buyer for 33 million pounds -- 27 percent less than the asking price. Overall, prices of super-prime homes as of mid-August had tumbled 25 percent from their early-2008 peak, says Alex Michelin, co-founder of Finchatton Ltd., a developer of luxury properties.

With the pound down 18 percent against the dollar from late 2007 to the end of August, overseas buyers could purchase high- end homes for half of what they cost at the top of the market. “The U.K. housing market has never fallen so sharply,” says Seema Shah, an economist at London-based consulting firm Capital Economics Ltd.

Nick and Chris Candy weren’t spared. They backed out of a plan to build a development in London called NoHo Square that included 244 flats. Another project to erect 552 apartments on a 13-acre (5-hectare) site called Chelsea Barracks also went awry.

Guernsey Based

A joint venture between Chris Candy’s Guernsey-based CPC Group Ltd. and Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co., a unit of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, paid 959 million pounds for Chelsea Barracks in January 2008 -- a U.K. record. In November, Qatari Diar bought CPC’s 30 percent stake for an undisclosed sum, retaining the brothers to handle project management, design and marketing.

Prince Charles later criticized the development as unsuitable for the area, and Qatari Diar withdrew its planning application.

The Candys’ most serious miscalculation was the decision to buy an 8-acre development site in Beverly Hills, California, in 2007. Their partner in the purchase -- CPC Group’s only U.S. investment -- was Kaupthing Bank Hf, one of the institutions at the heart of Iceland’s bubble economy.

A special-purpose vehicle called Project Lotus LLC created by CPC and Kaupthing paid $500 million for the property, 15 times what it had sold for three years earlier. Kaupthing collapsed and was nationalized in October 2008, jeopardizing CPC Group’s equity stake, which the Candys say was about $25 million.

Beverly Hills Default

In October, Project Lotus defaulted on a $360 million loan from Zurich-based bank Credit Suisse Group AG. The loan had been syndicated to investors, one of which is Banco Inbursa SA, which is controlled by the family of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

In June Inbursa sued CPC in New York for $20 million to recoup costs linked to the default. CPC, which has taken over Kaupthing’s stake in the project, says it is trying to refinance the loan so the Candys can hold on to the property. “It’s all tactical,” says Nick Candy. “It’s not hostile.”

Steven Smith, CPC’s head of corporate finance, valued the Beverly Hills site as of mid-August at less than $200 million.

The Candys’ future hinges on a project called One Hyde Park, a development of 86 apartments in Knightsbridge. One Hyde, located about 300 meters (980 feet) from Harrods department store, is targeted at the world’s richest homebuyers and is owned by a joint venture formed by CPC Group and Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani.

Billion Pound Loan

The project is being financed via a 1.15 billion pound development loan from German bank Eurohypo AG.

Half of the units have been sold, with one penthouse bought last year for “considerably more than 100 million pounds,” Nick Candy says.

Unwilling to cut prices, the Candys suspended sales in December and don’t plan to sell again until the spring of 2010, when a model apartment is completed.

“They’re desperate to keep values up,” says Johnny Turnbull, founder of Johnny Turnbull Property, an agency that acts for buyers of high-end properties. “They can push the market when it’s rising but not now.”

In the decade since it was founded, Candy & Candy has designed London homes for clients such as exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, American actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Vanisha Mittal, the daughter of Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. Many of the Candys’ customers belong to a class they call the uber-rich.

Wealth Report

A June 2009 World Wealth Report by Capgemini SA and Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management says the number of people globally with investable assets of $30 million fell 24.6 percent in 2008. On average, they lost 23.9 percent of their wealth.

The Candys say they can afford to wait for the property market to revive. One reason, they say, is that they cashed out of a joint venture they formed in 2006 to buy two Kensington hotels for 69 million pounds. They planned to build 97 apartments there, they say, until they were offered 320 million pounds by investors from Abu Dhabi.

That deal closed in March 2008, and the Candys pocketed about half of the 251-million-pound profit, Smith says.

“The decision to sell that property was a key milestone,” says Ian Barlow, senior adviser at KPMG LLP and a nonexecutive director of Candy & Candy. “From 18 months ago, they’ve been very conscious of the need to manage their downside risk. They have very significant cash reserves to get them through the recession.”

Five Homes

Smith, in a meeting at CPC’s offices in Guernsey, shows documents that give details of the Candys’ wealth. The unaudited internal reports state that the brothers had 167 million pounds in cash on May 31, 68 million pounds of it in personal bank accounts and the rest in their private companies.

Other assets include five homes in Monaco and London that Smith values at 324 million pounds, plus two yachts, a speedboat, a helicopter, two Maybachs, two Rolls Royces, two Bentleys and two Ferraris. Smith estimates the brothers’ debts at 138 million pounds and their net worth at about 750 million pounds -- not including 550 million pounds the Candys say they will earn if the remaining apartments at One Hyde Park sell for their asking price.

The Candys weren’t born into a world of opulence. They grew up in Surrey, outside London, as the children of Tony Candy, an entrepreneur who owned a small advertising production agency. Their English father got to the office by 5:30 a.m., Chris says, while their Greek Cypriot mother, Patricia, stayed at home.

Help From Grandma

He says money was tight enough that their maternal grandmother, who co-owned a restaurant, had to help pay the fees at their private secondary school, Epsom College.

Chris received a degree in business management at King’s College, London, in 1996 and then spent two years at a corporate finance firm with offices in London and Johannesburg before going into business for himself. He oversees CPC Group and works with the teams of designers who put together the Candys’ interiors.

Nick majored in geography at the University of Reading outside London. He failed his first-year accounting exams as a trainee at KPMG, he says, before working in advertising at J. Walter Thompson Co. and Dentsu Inc. He’s in charge of sales and marketing.

The brothers’ first real estate investment was in 1995, when the Candy family paid 122,000 pounds for a fifth-floor walk-up in London’s Earls Court district, where the brothers lived while Chris finished university.

Starting Small

“Chris’s bedroom was so small it could only have a futon in it,” Nick Candy says. Their grandmother loaned them the 6,000-pound down payment, they say, and their father covered the mortgage payments.

Britain’s housing boom was just beginning, and they sold the apartment after 18 months for a 50,000 pound gain. Then they bought another apartment for 236,000 pounds and sold it seven months later for 345,000 pounds, Nick says. They left their jobs in 1998 to focus on real estate and, by late 1999, had bought a handful of flats in high-priced Belgravia, funded by lenders such as Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc.

From the beginning, the brothers were tough businessmen, those who’ve dealt with them say. The Candys admit they play hard -- for example, withholding fees from suppliers who miss their delivery deadlines.

“We’re tough on ourselves; we’re tough on everyone,” Chris says. During his inspection of the yacht in July, two credenzas didn’t meet Chris’s standards, and he told his design team, “They’re bloody disgusting.”

No Procrastination

Almost everyone who works with the Candys mentions their relentless attention to detail and intolerance for delays. “We hate people who procrastinate,” Chris says.

While Smith says the Candys sometimes shout at one another, they say they make every major decision together. When apart, they phone each other at least 20 times a day, Nick says. At home in Monaco -- where foreigners pay no tax on income or capital gains -- they share a study with facing desks. “It’d be wrong to say we don’t get frustrated with each other, but most of the time we couldn’t do without each other,” Chris says.

The brothers lead very different lives. Chris often starts work by 5:30 a.m. and says he puts in about nine hours even on Sundays. When not working, he spends time with his fiancee, Emily Crompton, 27, who’s studying to become a criminal psychologist, and his dogs, a mixed-breed puppy named Bali and Snoopy, a Shih Tzu.

Celebrity Friends

Nick, by contrast, says he eats out for breakfast, lunch and dinner when he’s in London. He says his friends include TV personalities Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, businessmen Bernie Ecclestone and Steve Wynn, Britain’s Prince Andrew and Monaco’s Prince Albert. His girlfriend, Yael Torn-Hibler, 27, is an Israeli lawyer.

In Monaco, the brothers live like their super-rich clients. They are waited on by a butler, a chef and three maids in black dresses with white aprons. A silver-framed directory lists 25 phone numbers for various parts of the penthouse, including a massage room, bar and game room.

Strolling into the two-story library in bare feet one July morning, Chris Candy gazes around the room and says: “It’s off the charts, isn’t it? It’s probably the best piece of real estate in the world.”

The Candys’ success was driven by the rise of a new global elite willing to pay a high price for luxury. In the decade that ended in 2008, the Candys defined this culture of conspicuous consumption, says Brian D’Arcy Clark, director of Savills’s private office.

‘Age of Decadence’

“It was the complete age of decadence,” he says.

The brothers renovated flats with plasma screens in every room, toilets that flushed with the wave of a hand and master bedrooms the size of hotel suites. For the security conscious, they installed bomb-proof windows and retina scanners.

“Buyers -- Russians in particular -- were coming over here and saying, ‘Where’s the quality?’” says Charlie Ellingworth, founder of Property Vision, a London-based adviser to rich homeseekers. “The Candys gave it to them. They saw before anyone else that there was a niche for the latest luxury designs, brands and state-of-the-art gadgetry.”

By 2002, the Candys were making millions of pounds a year buying and refurbishing individual homes, they say. Yet they saw that larger developments offered a richer payoff. Their first was a 16-unit project on Manresa Road in London’s Chelsea district.

Creating Buzz

Julian Simmonds, who had retired as head of foreign exchange at Citigroup, bought the building in 2002 and then sold 29 percent to the Candys, who helped manage and market the development.

Susan Geddes, then head of real estate finance at Bank of Scotland Plc, which provided financing for the Manresa Road project, says she was struck by the Candys’ ability to create buzz about the apartments.

“They made clients feel they were being allowed to buy the most exclusive properties on the market,” Geddes says. She’s now head of real estate finance at U.K. lender Abbey National Plc. Bank of Scotland was merged into what’s now Lloyds Banking Group Plc.

The Candys fell out with their partner, Simmonds, in what Smith calls “a clash of personalities.” Simmonds declined to comment. Andrew Langton, chairman of real estate broker Aylesford International, says he too clashed with the Candys because they declined to pay him a fee for introducing them to the project.

Contract Dispute

“They said they wouldn’t pay because there was no written legal contract,” Langton says. “I’m old-fashioned and thought the verbal contract was enough.”

The Candys say there was neither a written nor a verbal contract and that Louise Hewlett, Aylesford’s managing director, received an introduction fee of more than a million pounds. Hewlett says she was paid only for selling the flats.

“They’re tough guys to deal with, and you need to have a clear understanding of what your brief is and what your remuneration is,” says Nick Jopling, executive director of international property broker CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., who’s a friend of the Candys and introduced them to the Beverly Hills site. “They’re both pretty blunt when they want to be. That can be off-putting.”

Nick Candy prides himself on not sugarcoating his words. “What I want to be is so deadpan honest that it might hurt,” he says. “I haven’t got time to be smarmy.” Even with Qatar’s prime minister, he says, “I’ll tell him exactly what I think and feel.”

Qatar Connection

The Candys’ relationship with al-Thani began in 2003, and drove their transformation from niche players to major developers, they say. Al-Thani was then foreign minister; he was named prime minister in 2007. Nick was introduced to al-Thani by a banker at Kleinwort Benson Ltd.

He says he then met him at his palace in Doha to pitch two investments: One Hyde Park and a proposed development in Belgravia at 21 Chesham Place.

Al-Thani agreed to invest in 21 Chesham, initially passing on One Hyde. The former would be the first building the Candys created from the ground up.

One July afternoon, Martin Kemp, the Candys’ head of design, offers a tour of 21 Chesham, which consists of six apartments, each different. He starts in a 6,260-square-foot apartment on the market for 27 million pounds -- not including the works on the walls by Picasso, Renoir and Degas that the Candys have borrowed from art galleries.

‘Wow Factor’

“Our clients tend to take the whole place as seen,” Kemp says. “So galleries are very happy to lend to us.”

Kemp says such apartments each need one distinctive feature, which he calls the “wow factor.” In this case, it’s a subterranean swimming pool from which one can watch movies on a 25-foot-wide screen. In another flat in the building, the wow factor is a two-story living and dining room, with a chandelier that descends 12 feet from the ceiling. A sales sheet lists it at 37.5 million pounds.

Kemp, who has more contact with Candy clients than anyone else, says they show no signs of economizing. One homebuyer, he says, spent 80,000 pounds on a single designer metal chair for her apartment.

“There are some people who are still unaffected and require an exemplary London home,” Kemp says.

One test of how big that market is will be One Hyde Park, which is scheduled for completion in November 2010. A joint venture that CPC Group formed with al-Thani paid 150 million pounds for the site in 2004, using a 100-million-pound loan from Bank of Scotland.

Taking Profits

Two years ago, when they refinanced with Eurohypo, CPC took about 100 million pounds in profits out of the new loan, the Candys say.

Their strategy here, as in other deals, is to commit as little as possible of their own cash while using the “double leverage” of money from their bank and equity partner, Smith says.

In late June, the Candys stand in a half-built penthouse in One Hyde Park that will exceed 20,000 square feet. Every feature in One Hyde is designed with the uber-rich in mind -- down to underground parking spots that are 6.17 meters long in order to fit a 375,000-pound Maybach, a brand owned by Germany’s Daimler AG. There’s a private cinema, and a staff trained by Mandarin Oriental Group will provide residents with every service offered at its hotel next door.

40% Deposit

Nick Candy says they’ve sold more than half of the apartments at about 5,520 pounds per square foot and that this amounts to nearly 750 million pounds -- enough to cover construction costs. Typically, U.K. developers require 10 percent deposits; at One Hyde, the Candys demand 40 percent. Nick says no buyers have sacrificed their deposits by walking away.

Property Vision’s Ellingworth says the Candys may benefit from a scarcity of comparable homes. “There’s not much else on the market if you want a property with every bell and whistle,” he says.

Jonathan Hewlett, head of Savills’s London residential division, says prices are reviving: One home in Mayfair sold in May for 17.5 million pounds, with the buyer trumping an earlier bid of 16 million pounds. The previous owner paid 12.5 million pounds in 2006.

With cash to invest, the Candys are looking at properties around the world and say they eventually hope to replicate One Hyde Park in Monaco, Hong Kong and New York. For now, though, they can’t expect bank financing.

No Development Finance

“There’s very little appetite from banks to do development finance,” Abbey National’s Geddes says.

The Candys say they still hope to develop the site in Beverly Hills that they lost control of when Kaupthing collapsed. Smith, who’s been involved in negotiations with the creditors, says the Candys will abandon the site and leave the lenders to auction it if they can’t agree on refinancing terms.

“We’re not prepared to overpay for that property again,” Nick says.

In the meantime, the Candys are looking beyond real estate. Chris Candy paid 11.5 million pounds this year to buy 44 percent of Metals Exploration Plc, a London-based mining company whose principal asset is a gold mine in the Philippines. “I wanted to diversify away from property,” he says.

Just two years ago, real estate was the gold-plated investment. Nick recalls the time in 2007 when CPC paid 1.5 million pounds as a down payment on two flats priced at a total of 30.5 million pounds in a building under construction in Knightsbridge. CPC sold them a few months later, before the building was even completed, for 54 million pounds.

“Nice deal, eh?” Nick says. “We lived in an amazing era.”

The Candys are the first to say it’s a time that won’t be back soon.

To contact the reporters on this story: William Green in London at Simon Packard in London at

Technical details of the superyacht Candyscape: (source:

Length Overall (m): 44.76 Length Overall (ft): 146.85
Beam (m): 8.81 Beam (ft): 28.90
Draught Max (m): 2.67 Draught Max (ft): 8.76

Shipyard: Benetti SpA Year: 1994
Hull: FB 214

Naval Architect: Benetti SpA
Exterior Designer: Stefano Natucci
Interior Designer: Zuretti Interior Design, Candy & Candy

Hull Material: Steel
Superstructure: Aluminium

Guest Cabins: 6
Guests: 12
Crew: 10

Engines: 2 x 2184 hp Deutz V12 Diesels
Max Speed: 16.5
Cruise Speed: 15.5
Propulsion: Twin Screw

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