French billionaire Pierre Castel and his Groupe Castel, which ranks number 3 in wine and number 10 in beer worldwide, is expanding its real estate holdings on the Iberian peninsula. The group bought for a total of about 100 million Euros four of the eight buildings of an office complex called Torres de Lisboa (Lisbon Towers) on the periphery of Portugal’s capital Lisbon.
The complex consists of two towers with 16 floors and two smaller buildings with 5 floors, which are rented to prominent national and international companies. Castel and his group already own several other office buildings in Portugal including the Campus da Justiça (Campus of Justice) in the Park of Nations, the Campo Grande and one of the Torres do Colombo (Colombo Towers). The whole real estate property is worth 400 million Euros according to Expresso, one of Portugal’s leading newspapers.
Since 2013 Castel is diversifying his business, which mainly consists of French wineries and African breweries and soft drink bottlers into real estate. The Castel family has been investing in real estate through their Singapore based Investment Business Beverage Fund (IBBF). Up to the recent purchase, more than 800 million Euros had already been invested into property on the Iberian peninsula, with the majority of about 500 million Euros being in Spain.
Pierre Castel, who turned last year 92, is said to be one of the richest people in France, although he moved already many years ago to Switzerland. His fortune and the fortune of his family are estimated at over 11 billion Euros.
He is the founder and current president of Castel-Frères, a family business with its roots in the wine business. Over the past sixty years through Cassiopée Limited, Pierre Castel has grown and developed the business to its current state as a global presence in the beverage sector with a presence on six continents. In 2014, the Cassiopée group had 30,000 employees in approximately 215 companies across 40 countries.
Castel’s parents were poor immigrants from Spain, which might explain his interest in properties on the Iberian peninsula. His father Santiago Castel was a sharecropper at a local vineyard in Bourg-sur-Gironde close to Bordeaux/France. Pierre, whose full name is Pierre Jesus Sebastian Castel had 4 older brothers and 3 younger sisters. With his three brothers Marcel, Jean and Angel he started Castel-Frères in 1949.
The company exported wine to French speaking countries in West Africa. As it was easier to transport the wine in barrels and tanks, they began bottling it on site in Africa. Later on they used the bottling lines also for water and soft drinks.
In 1990 Groupe Castel bought Société des Brasseries et Glacières Internationales (BGI), a group of breweries across Africa, which was the starting point for further acquisitions in the brewing sector, mainly in Africa. In April 2001 Castel signed an agreement with the number one brewer in Africa, South African Breweries (SAB), in which both companies swapped shares and virtually divided the continent among the French speaking countries for Castel and the English speaking countries for SAB.