Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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# 124 Joseph Safra $13.8B

Random fact: Paid $1.1 billion for London's iconic Gherkin tower in 2014


Safra controls the Safra banking empire, whose Banco Safra had about $47 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, 2018. Through J. Safra Sarasin, he oversaw $167 billion in client assets across Europe and the Caribbean in 2018, and he owns Safra National Bank, which is based in New York. His real estate assets include London's Gherkin.

As of :
Last change -$195M ( -1.4%)
YTD change -$5.14B ( -27.1%)
Industry Finance
Biggest asset J. Safra Sarasin
Citizenship Brazil
Age 82
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Joseph Safra's net worth of $13.8B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Safra's fortune is derived from his ownership of a banking empire whose flagship is Sao Paulo-based Banco Safra. The lender reported equity of 11.8 billion reais ($3 billion) in 2018. It's valued using the average price-to-book and price-to-earnings multiples of two Brazil banks, Itau and Bradesco, and Mexican lender Banorte.

He spent 2 billion francs ($2.1 billion) in 2012 to acquire Bank Sarasin, a wealth-management company based in Basel, Switzerland. He merged it into the parent company for his wealth units in Europe and the Caribbean, creating J. Safra Sarasin. The entity reported 2018 equity of 5.1 billion francs ($5.2 billion). It's valued with the average price-to-book multiples of two Swiss peer companies: Julius Baer Group and EFG International.

Safra National Bank of New York, which reported 2018 equity of $864 million, is valued using the average price-to-book-value multiple of three U.S. peers: Signature Bank, First Republic Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Since buying his late brother Moise's 50% stake in the family's banking empire in 2006, Safra has received more than 6.4 billion reais in dividends and another 1.4 billion reais from his 2009 sale of a stake in pulp producer Aracruz. The value of his cash investments is based on an analysis of dividends, asset sales, taxes and market performance.

Safra's real estate is valued using average rent, occupancy rates, and cap rates from Cushman and Wakefield and a March 2015 report from research service Real Capital Analytics. His properties are calculated to be worth $2.2 billion.

Safra owns 50% of banana distributor Chiquita Brands. The company had 2018 revenue of $3.1 billion and is valued using the enterprise value-to-revenue and enterprise-value-to Ebit multiples of two peers: Fresh Del Monte Produce and John B. Sanfilippo & Son.


Birthdate: 9/1/1938
Family: Married, 4 children
Education: Whittingham College

Joseph Safra was born in Lebanon in 1938, heir to a family of Jewish financiers with roots in mid-19th century Aleppo, Syria. After expanding the family's banking empire to Beirut, his father, Jacob, struck out for Brazil following World War II to continue the family tradition. Joseph joined him in Sao Paulo years later, after studying in England and working at banks in the U.S. and Argentina.

With their father, brothers Joseph and Moise Safra built a bank that brought their Middle Eastern financial expertise to the Brazilian market. Edmond Safra, the oldest of Jacob's three sons, went to New York to found the Republic National Bank, which he sold to HSBC for $10.3 billion in 1999, shortly before his death by arson in Monaco. Edmond's widow, Lily, inherited much of his fortune.

Joseph bought -- for an undisclosed amount -- Moise's stakes in Banco Safra and their network of wealth management units stretching from the Bahamas to Zurich in 2006. Joseph agreed to acquire publicly traded Swiss wealth manager Sarasin in 2011, completing the transaction the following year. He lives in Sao Paulo in a 118,400-square-foot mansion.

  • 1900 Jewish-Syrian financier Jacob Safra is born in Aleppo, Syria.
  • 1938 Joseph, one of Jacob's eight children, is born in Lebanon.
  • 1967 Banco Safra is founded in Sao Paulo by Jacob, Joseph and Moise.
  • 1999 Brother Edmond Safra dies in Monaco, the victim of arson.
  • 2003 Carlos Slim buys Safra-BellSouth ventures for $795 million.
  • 2006 Acquires brother Moise's stake in the family empire.
  • 2010 Buys 660 Madison Avenue building in New York for $285 million.
  • 2014 Buys Gherkin building in London for $1.1 billion.