Stephen M Ross is no stranger to investments from and in the Middle East. As a director of Kerzner International, he has a relationship with Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, to bring their flagship brand Atlantis to The Palm Jumeirah.
On Monday, Ross, the chairman, chief executive officer and founder of Related Companies, struck an investment deal of $1.4 billion (Dh5.14bn) with international firms including Mubadala Development Company and Goldman Sachs.
The Abu Dhabi firm will invest in Related through a debt placement along with two international entities, including the Saudi Arabia-based Olayan Group. The investment is not limited to one deal, with the new companies agreeing to invest in future opportunities.
“This is a historic transaction for Related, which will enable us to write a new chapter of our growth. This carefully selected, prestigious group of investors will allow us to reinforce our position as one of the nation’s leading developers, managers and financiers of premier real estate properties,” Ross said a statement.
“Related is a strong fit for us,” said Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chief executive officer of Mubadala.
Ross formed Related in 1972 to develop, finance and manage government-assisted rental apartments. The firm has more than 2,000 professionals to oversee a real estate portfolio valued in excess of $15 bn (Dh55bn).
In the 1990s, Related continued its expansion into new regions, new developments and new partnerships. To better manage its growth, Ross organised Related into three divisions – development, management and financial services – each with its own mission.
The development division develops and acquires luxury housing, government-assisted housing, retail, commercial and mixed-use properties. It operates through seven principal business units organised by market and product type. The property management division provides services for more than 21,000 residential apartment units and more than a million square feet of commercial and retail space.
Ross began his career in Detroit, Michigan, working for the accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand as a tax attorney. He later moved to New York where he specialised in real estate and corporate finance at two investment banking firms before founding Related.
Ross graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Business Administration and followed it with a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School. He holds a Master of Laws in Taxation degree from New York University School of Law. He is the chairman of the board of trustees of Centerline Holding Company, the parent company of Centerline Capital Group, and chairman of Equinox Fitness Clubs, Related’s most recent acquisition.
The developer of numerous high-profile projects in New York City and around the country, Related is best known for its historic 2.8-million-square-foot, $1.7bn (Dh6.24bn) Time Warner Center, which has transformed Columbus Circle into one of New York’s premier destinations. Related’s current pipeline comprises marquee projects across the nation including Grand Avenue, a multi-phase 3.6-million-square-foot, $3bn (Dh11bn) development spanning three city blocks in downtown Los Angeles; the $3bn, 80-acre Snowmass Village Resort development in Colorado; the 144-acre CityNorth mixed-use development in Phoenix; and the 7.5-million-square-foot Moynihan Station complex in New York City.
As a member of the board of trustees of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Ross was involved in the planning of a major renovation of the Frank Lloyd Wright iconic building and other new museums. He is a trustee of Lincoln Centre, New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Urban Land Institute, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Levin Institute, the National Building Museum, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Over the years, Ross has received numerous honours for his business, civic, and philanthropic activities. He was named Owner & Developer of the Year by New York Construction News in 2000. In 1999, he was honoured by the Lincoln Center Real Estate and Construction Council and received the ‘What New York Needs’ award presented by The Doe Fund. Ross received the ‘Tree of Life Award’ in 1998 in recognition of outstanding community involvement and devotion to peace and the security of human life. In 2004, Ross made the single largest contribution to the University of Michigan – $100m (Dh367m). The university renamed its business school The Stephen M Ross School of Business in his honour.
Ross and his wife, Kara, an entrepreneur and jewellery designer, live in New York with their four daughters.