August 2011


Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet carried Richard Branson’s 90-year-old mother to safety as the Virgin tycoon’s house was engulfed by fire after a lightning storm.

Branson’s mother Eve and other family members escaped unharmed after the fire broke out at The Great House on Necker Island in the Caribbean.

“She [Winslet] was staying there with her children and in fact it was she who carried my mother out of the house,” Branson told Britain’s ITV News.

A blaze rips through Richard Branson's home on Necker Island.A blaze rips through Richard Branson’s home on Necker Island. Photo: Reuters

“She swept her up into her arms and got them out of the house as fast as possible.”

“[She said] ‘it’s like being in a film set where you’re waiting for the words ‘cut’ but they just don’t come’,” the entrepreneur added.

Branson’s 29-year-old daughter Holly was also forced to flee the flames.

Kate Winslet ... rescued Richard Branson's mother.Kate Winslet … rescued Richard Branson’s mother. Photo: Reuters

The 60-year-old founder of the Virgin empire had been staying in another property nearby with his wife Joan and son Sam when the lightning struck the main house.

Tropical storm Irene is tearing across the Caribbean and was expected to dump an additional five to 10 centimetres of rain on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday.

On his blog, Branson said: “We had a really bad tropical storm with winds up to 90 miles [145 kilometres] per hour. A big lightning storm came around 4:00 am and hit the house.

Engulfed by flames ... fire sweeps through Richard Branson's Caribbean retreat.Engulfed by flames … fire sweeps through Richard Branson’s Caribbean retreat. Photo: Reuters

“My son Sam rushed to the house and helped get everyone out. Kate Winslet, her boyfriend and her family were there and Holly and some of her friends were also staying.

“The main house is completely destroyed and the fire is not yet completely out. My office was based in the house and I have lost thousands of photographs which is very sad.

“We want to rebuild the house as soon as we can. We have a wonderful staff here and we want them to stay in work.

Wants to rebuild ... Richard Branson.Wants to rebuild … Richard Branson. Photo: Reuters

“We’ll all stay here for the time being. There’s a lot of damage and we won’t be able to stick it back together again right away. It was a beautiful house.”

Branson bought the island in the early 1980s. It is part of the British Virgin Islands.

Each bedroom has its own balcony, king-size bed and en-suite bathroom.

“Set on the top of Devil’s Hill, this beautiful house is the heart of the island,” Necker’s website says.

“The jewel in the crown is the master suite which has its own jacuzzi and private terrace with panoramic views over the ocean and neighbouring islands.”

The island can be hired privately for $52,300 a night

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Controversial fertiliser tycoon Pankaj Oswal says PPB Advisory, the receiver and manager appointed by ANZ Bank to Burrup Fertilisers, is ”irresponsibly” using company funds.

Mr Oswal is suing Burrup Fertilisers for $US491 million ($A475 million) in cost overruns and is challenging the validity of the receivership.

Mr Oswal says PPB Advisory charging $7 million in fees and disbursements in less than six months is ”scandalous”, as is the $4.6 million in legal fees.

”It should be noted that virtually all my legal actions are against PPB Advisory, not Burrup Fertilisers,” he said.

”It is also interesting that even after all of this expenditure, Burrup still has $US41 million in cash.

”Not bad for a company put into receivership.”

Mr Oswal said it was ”one of many reasons” why he and his wife Radhika were challenging the receivership.

PPB Advisory was appointed receivers in December 2010.

Mr Oswal said the plant since then has lost 60 days of operations due to fire, equipment failure and mismanagement.

He said insurance premiums had skyrocketed, staff morale was low and lost operations had cost the company $80 million in revenue.

”It is worth noting that by comparison, when I ran the operation the plant ran for 420 consecutive days at 115 per cent of the name plate capacity,” Mr Oswal said.

He also said he believed there was collusion between ANZ, fertiliser company Yara and PPB Advisory to force him to sell at the lowest possible price.

Mr Oswal is also taking action against the Commonwealth Bank for selling his Gulfstream jet at a discounted price to an organisation in the United States.

”I am informed that ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank have also colluded to put me under further pressure,” he said.

Mr Oswal will take the matters to the Supreme Court in Melbourne in the next several months.

A spokesman for PPB Advisory said they were not interested in a public slanging match with Mr Oswal.

He said the sale process was continuing and the fees were ”firmly in line” with industry standards.


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha
Justin Bieber: named richest teen by People magazine.Justin Bieber: named richest teen by People magazine. Photo: Penny Stephens


After riding the fast road to fame in 2009, Justin Bieber has topped a People magazine list of the richest teen stars, pulling in $US53 million ($50.74 million) last year.

Both the singer and his bank balance enjoyed stellar success in 2010 with ventures such as his 3-D concert movie Never Say Never, his perfume line and record sales.

The 17-year-old has been at work non-stop since he found fame at the age of 14, and recently told the Hollywood Reporter he wanted to take some time off from touring and performing to focus on his home life and “grow up”.

US singer and actress Miley Cyrus.

World’s richest teens

US singer and actress Miley Cyrus. Photo: AP

  • US singer and actress Miley Cyrus.
  • Canadian singer Justin Bieber.
  • Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers.
  • Actor Jaden Smith.
  • Actress Willow Smith.
  • Twilight actor Taylor Lautner.
  • Singer, Selena Gomez.

People’s richest teen list is based on 2010 earnings, and Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus was not far behind Bieber, with a pay cheque of $US48 million ($45.95 million) for the year thanks to her recent world tour.

Cyrus’ ex-boyfriend Nick Jonas pulled in $US12.5 million ($11.97 million), followed by Will Smith’s kids – Jaden and Willow – who both banked an estimated $US9 million ($8.62 million) each.


Also on the cash countdown are Taylor Lautner ($US8.5 million/$8.14 million) and Selena Gomez ($US5.5 million/$5.27 million).

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Diamond Investing News on coloured diamonds


Demand for colored diamonds is surging and prices are rapidly following the upward trend. According to Leibish Polnauer, President of Leibish & Co, a five carat yellow diamond is currently selling in the range of  $75,000-$100,000, and notes that this is a 40 percent increase over last year’s prices. Gem Diamonds (LON:GEMD), whose Ellendale mine supplies Tiffany & Co. with yellow diamonds, announced that in the first quarter of 2011, it sold the jeweller these stones for an average of $3,379 per carat compared to $2, 545 per carat during the first quarter of 2010.

Interest in colored diamond prices and the profit potential of the stones is extending beyond producers and industry consumers to an expanding number of individual diamond investors. Leibish & Co maintains a special inventory of investment grade colored diamonds and confirms an increase of profit-focused clientele. Sean Dunn, Vice President of J.R. Dunn, reported a similar trend. Tight supply and growing demand, especially in emerging countries, are increasing prices throughout the diamond industry.

However, colored diamonds are much rarer than white stones, therefore a surge in interest is difficult to accommodate. High-end US consumers have come back to the market, said Dunn. “But demand in Asia is simply outstripping supply,” he adds. “Our inventory often sells faster to international clients. Some fly in willing to pay prices above retail. They take the diamonds overseas and sell them for even more.” Both India and Hong Kong are considered hot markets for colored diamond activity.

Before investing


Predictions for growth and longevity in the colored diamond market are highly optimistic. However, there are a number of things to consider before getting into this game. Foremost, is the forewarning that these investments are not for everyone.

Leibish says colored diamond investing is for people with liquidity and a long term view. According to Dunn, demand allows some people who bought diamonds in 2010 to sell them for decent returns now, something that hasn’t always been done. By his own account Polnauer says, Leibish sold an intense 4 carat yellow diamond about a year ago. The jeweler offered to buy it back at a 20 percent premium and the client refused. It’s all about the stone a person possesses, which is why Polnauer says an investor must study this market.

Dunn further stresses that investing in colored diamonds is a gamble. He also highlights the fact that some stones definitely offer a much higher probability of attractive returns, but, there is never a guarantee. “Generally, smaller stones (a carat or less) are harder to capitalize on. But there are exceptions.” Australian pinks are considered extremely rare and blues also tend to be placed in the rare and desirable categories. These stones may warrant investment at smaller sizes. Another thing, says Dunn, is that investors should avoid stones with undesirable characteristics.

Individuals who want to avoid venturing unguided into this market may want to consider the Novel Diamond Fund. The first of its kind, the newly launched fund specializes almost exclusively in the investment of colored stones. In an interview with Bloomberg, Alan Landau, CEO of Novel Asset Management, explained that the fund will focus on diamonds valued at $1 million or more. Investors will, therefore, be able to enjoy the historically high returns in this type of investment which have thus far been enjoyed mostly by those in the industry.

Instead of the buy and hold strategy common among funds of other types, Landau said this fund is going to exploit a spread created by buying at wholesale prices and selling at retail. Although open to new investors now, the fund is scheduled to close in October. Landau told Bloomberg he expects major institutions to catch on to the diamond investing trend and move into this market. Polnauer told Diamond Investing News, he expects colored diamonds to be like gold… experiencing drastic price increases over the span of a few years.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

MORE INFO >>> [email protected]