Ride in London in the back of a Rolls-Royce in the early 1980s, aged 12 Jacob Rees-Mogg He proudly declared his ambitions: “I’ve always wanted to be rich.”
The young man who was already a staunch supporter of then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher calmly explained to a French reporter that he put his plans into action five years ago when he invested £50 of his inheritance in shares of utility company GEC.
Now a millionaire more than once, a new business secretary set to cash in on additional windfall gains from the potential sale of Somerset Capital Management, the investment firm he helped launch in 2007, could be named.
It emerged Thursday that talks are underway to sell Somerset, as co-founder and CEO Dominic Johnson prepares to follow in Reese-Mogg’s footsteps and make a career in politics.
The sale could lead to a multi-million pound payout to the business minister, who stopped receiving salaries from the company in 2019, but remains a member of the stock. His share is understood to be low in his teens, although this information is not publicly available. In 2018, during inconclusive merger talks with a US company, Somerset was believed to be valued between £70m and £100m. At the time, it was managing $10 billion in assets on behalf of a group of individual and institutional investors, although that amount has since fallen to $5 billion.
Media reports indicate The powerful Brexiteers have taken at least £7m in Somerset’s profits since the EU referendum in 2016, and before he stopped making a salary, Reese-Mogg received around £15,000 a month from the company plus MP’s pay.
Somerset has traditionally invested in listed companies in emerging markets including China, Korea, India and Mexico, and is believed to have benefited from the fall in the value of sterling after the Brexit vote as its holdings were offshore.
His payments from Somerset continued, although as a sleeping shareholder he no longer played a role in advising on investment strategy or business management. Rees-Mogg reportedly received a dividend of at least £600,000 last year, according to The Times, although this was down from £800,000 the year before due to a 35% drop in profits, partly linked to the emerging market selloff.
The company’s investment analysis, based on data provided by research agency Morningstar, shows holdings in major Chinese companies including Alibaba and Tencent, which operates social media platform WeChat and owns stakes in Spotify, Tesla, Snapchat, Monzo and Reddit.
There are also stakes in Samsung, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing which is said to be in line with Apple’s supply of iPhones and Macs next year.
Somerset has also co-founded Infosys – the global IT company founded by Indian billionaire NR Narayana Murthy, father-in-law of former consultant Rishi Sunak – as well as owner of Taco Bell Yum China, and beer companies Budweiser and Heineken.
The data also shows the company owns small stakes in a handful of Russian companies including search engine Yandex, online recruitment firm HeadHunter, and TCS Holding Group, which in turn owns the country’s second-largest credit card issuer, Tinkoff Bank.
Cabinet Minister, whose father was William Rhys Mogg, editor-in-chief of The Times throughout the 1970s, formerly Pledge to reduce his share in Somerset. He also owns a sprawling real estate portfolio including two apartments in Pall Mall, owned by his company Saliston, as well as a former school building near Gournay Court – a Grade II listed Somerset mansion* inhabited by his mother – and a bungalow in Midsomer Norton.
Prior to the creation of Somerset, Reese-Mogg worked for hedge funds in Hong Kong and Mayfair, and is one of the richest ministers in Prime Minister Liz Truss’s government.
Spear’s Wealth Management estimated in 2019 that his net worth was “over £100m”, a figure that also represents the expected inheritance of his wife, Lady Helena de Cher, whose mother is said to have a fortune of £45m.
Somerset partner Oliver Crowley emphasized that Rees-Mogg had not played a role in any of the company’s investment decisions for more than a decade. “Any partnership interest in Somerset is suspended under ministerial law,” he added.
Reese-Mogg, contacted by the Guardian via Business Department, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.