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FB Roundup: James Crown, Lee Joong-keun, Robert Smith

FB Roundup: James Crown, Lee Joong-keun, Robert Smith
In this week’s FB Roundup, tributes are paid to Chicago billionaire James Crown; South Korean billionaire Lee Joong-keun gives $70,000 to every household in his hometown; and Robert Smith doubles his investment in software maker Apptio.
By Glen Ferris
James Crown

Tributes paid to Chicago billionaire James Crown
US President Joe Biden has shared his condolences following the passing of Chicago-based billionaire James Crown, the chairman and CEO of family investment firm Henry Crown & Company.

The businessman, whose family was ranked 34th-richest in America in Forbes’ 2020 Rich List, died in a car racing accident in Aspen Motorsports Park in Woody Creek, Colorado, on the week of his 70th birthday. 

“We extend our deepest condolences to Jim’s family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time,” said Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, on whose board Crown served. “Our thoughts are also with all of you who knew and loved Jim, as much as I did. He was an integral part of JPMorgan Chase and our lives, and his presence will be deeply missed.”

In addition to working for his own family and sitting on the JPMorgan board since the early 1990s, Crown was also a board director at General Dynamics, managing partner of Aspen Skiing Co., chair emeritus of the Aspen Institute and a trustee at the Museum of Science and Industry, the Civic Committee and the University of Chicago.

“The Crown family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Jim Crown,” a family representative said in a statement. “The family requests that their privacy be respected at this difficult time.”

Crown, who was appointed by Barack Obama to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board in 2014, had recently announced “a crime reduction strategy focused on getting jobs for thousands of people in the most dangerous parts of Chicago, providing millions of dollars for civilian violence intervention programmes, strengthening law enforcement agencies and investing in low-income communities,” according to the Chicago Sun Times.

“Jim lived a great Chicago story – one that tied our nation’s industrious past to an ever-hopeful future,” said President Joe Biden. “He grew up the great-grandson of a sweatshop worker whose son turned a construction-supply company into an empire. Throughout his own career as a business and civic leader, Jim continued to drive that legacy forward, bring out the best in his peers, and help shape the city he loved.” 

Crown is survived by his wife, Paula Hannaway, four children and his parents, Lester and Renée Crown. 

Lee Joong-keun

South Korean billionaire gives $70,000 to every household in his hometown
Lee Joong-keun, the chairman of South Korean real estate development firm Booyoung Group, has given away cash gifts of 100,000,000 won (approximately $70,000 USD) to each of the 280 households in the rural village where he grew up. 

According to UPI News Korea, Unpyeong-ri near Suncheon, which is located 180 miles south of Seoul, the gift is part of an award comprising gifts, history books and toolsets, totalling $180 million USD.

"Chairman Lee hoped to keep the donation out of the spotlight. His main purpose was to express his gratitude to all the people of the village who helped in protecting and maintaining his hometown over the years,” said a Booyoung official.

The 82-year-old billionaire began his career as a real estate developer and latterly became known as a pioneer in Korea’s apartment rental industry amassing more than $1 billion in personal wealth, making him one of the 30 richest people in the country. As head of Booyoung, Lee’s other businesses include hotels and golf courses.

As reported by UPI News Korea, in 2004 Lee was arrested and served four months in jail for evading taxes and embezzling company funds. In 2018, he was again arrested and served two-and-a-half years on similar charges. He was released in 2021 on parole but was barred for five years from working at “any entity connected with the source of his crime”.

“Lee got a huge dose of dividends from Booyoung recently, and these donations are being made ahead of the August 15 National Liberation Day,” said Seoul National University economics Professor Lee Phil-sang in a phone interview with UPI News Korea, referring to a double dividend of $93 million from Booyoung in 2022 and $96 million in 2023. “Some may suspect that Chairman Lee is attempting to improve his image. Of course, he could just be being thankful to his community back home.”

Lee currently owns 93.79% of Booyoung, and reportedly has no current plans to transfer his shares to his relatives. 

Robert Smith

Robert Smith doubles his investment in software maker
Billionaire American businessman Robert Smith has more than doubled his initial investment in software maker Apptio following the news that International Business Machines agreed to acquire the tech firm for $4.6 billion.

Smith’s private equity firm, Vista Equity Partners, had previously bought Apptio in 2019 for approximately $1.9 billion and assured investors that the deal would return 2.1 times the company's investment. According to The National, the sale of Apptio (which sells online services that helps the majority of Fortune 100 companies to manage their IT budgets) is boosting Smith’s target of a $20 billion fund to search for new deals.

“We are committed to building resilient enterprise software companies, which has proven to be highly attractive to strategic and financial buyers, as well as public markets,” said Smith, who has a $12 billion net worth according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Vista has a history of purchasing, maximising and selling off at profit software companies, such as Cvent Holding which sold to Blackstone for $4.6 billion earlier this month.

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