Friday, January 20, 2012

Joseph Safra

Joseph Safra (Arabic: يوسف صفرا) currently runs the Brazilian banking and investment empire, Safra Group. As the chairman of all Safra companies, among them Safra National Bank of New York and the large Banco Safra headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil, he is ranked at 68 with a net wealth of 11.4$ billion on Forbes list of billionaires.

Early Life
Joseph was born in Beirut into a wealthy Jewish banking family. The family's history in banking originated with caravan trade between Aleppo, Alexandria and Constantinople during the Ottoman Empire. The Safras decided to move to Brazil in 1952. In 1955, Joseph's 23-year-old brother, Edmond Safra, and his father, Jacob Safra, started working in Brazil by financing assets in São Paulo. But soon, Edmond Safra separated from his brothers Joseph and Moises and headed to New York where he founded the Republic National Bank of New York (which he later sold to HSBC in 1997 and donated most of his money to the Edmond Safra Foundation). Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra in the 60's, and today it is the 6th largest private bank in Brazil. He remains the chairman of the Safra Group offering banking services throughout Europe, North and South America.

Joseph Safra recently acquired the remaining shares of Safra Group companies from his brother Moises Safra. The two brothers still maintain a joint ownership of Aracruz Cellulose.

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