Business

Big, blue-chip London family office faces succession

A little known London-based family office, with a stellar reputation among asset managers, is moving to the next generation of ownership after its principal’s death early this year. 

Aralon Advisory Services is among the most discreet family offices anywhere. But it is one of the biggest in the UK, managing, according to those close to it, a portfolio of more than £10 billion. 

Based in an elegant townhouse in Cadogan Place in London’s expensive Knightbridge district, Aralon is also linked to several high profile London financiers…

In January, its owner Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud died. Khalid Abdullah was a hugely successful businessman and horse breeder. He founded and led Mawarid Holding, an investment and holdings group, which has a big presence through its numerous subsidiaries in many sectors in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. 

Khalid Abdullah, who is related to the founder and first king of Saudi Arabia, Ibn Saud, was also a top breeder of racing horses in the UK, Ireland, and the US. His horse racing business was managed by Juddmonte Farms, which bred many winners of prestigious horse racing events across the world. 

Aralon was founded in 1982 and has remained virtually unknown outside of the top echelons of London’s financial sector. During much of that time, Aralon has been run by James Swartz. A Yale and Oxford University-trained lawyer, the American Swartz worked at Morgan Grenfell, a prestigious London-based merchant bank taken over by Deutsche Bank in the early 1990s, before running Aralon.  

Swartz, 73, is still listed on Companies House records as the managing director of Aralon. David Hall is listed as Aralon’s finance director.

Based in an elegant townhouse in Cadogan Place in London’s expensive Knightbridge district, Aralon is also linked to several high profile London financiers, including, say insiders, the co-founder of one of the capital’s most successful hedge funds and the former CEO of a big UK asset management group. 

Aralon was considered by asset managers as one of the most desirable places to do business with in London’s financial sector. But little is known about its investment strategy. 

Who has taken over, or about to take over the ownership of Aralon, hasn’t been made public. Khalid Abdullah is still listed as the person with significant control at Aralon on Companies House records.

Khalid Abdullah, who, according to various obituaries, was noted for his courtesy and self-effacement manager, was married to Princess Al Joharah bint Abdulaziz, a sister of Saudi Arabia’s present king. 

They had seven children, four sons (one of whom predeceased his father) and three daughters. It is believed that one of his sons is vice chairman of Mawarid Holdings. 

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