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US billionaire eyes investment in LJ Hooker

US billionaire Michael Fuchs has his sights on the Australian market, with plans to inject $35 million equity into LJ Hooker.

In 1991, New York-based Mr Fuchs and a childhood friend foundered RFR Holdings, a real estate portfolio now worth north of $20 billion.

Their assets include the Seagram Building, the Chrysler Building, and Hotel Paramount in Manhattan, Dexter Station in Seattle, and The Jaffa Residences in Tel Aviv.

Now, he is looking to inject $35 million equity into LJ Hooker, which, along with a $34 million loan from existing lender ICG, will allow the business to recapitalise.

The proposed investment from Mr Fuchs comes after he first bought into LJ Hooker in 2009.

He was one of a high profile consortium that included Janusz Hooker, grandson of founder Sir Leslie Hooker, who bought the business from Suncorp for $67 million.

In 2015, Mr Hooker bought out numerous shareholders, including RAMS founder, John Kinghorn, former LJ Hooker chairman, Greg Paramor, and property developer Syd Fischer, staking a bigger claim in the family business.

At the time, then-chief executive Grant Harrod said, “the company’s ownership now rests with a tight group of investors who are each strategically valuable to the company”.

Network Chief Graeme Hyde will lead the rebuilding of the company, which was founded in Maroubra, NSW, in 1928.

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