Dyson Holdings transfers $1.8bn to billionaire's family office

Mr Dyson is the UK’s richest person with a net worth of about $26bn

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 11, 2018 Founder of the Dyson company, designer James Dyson, poses with products during a photo session at a hotel in Paris. British electric appliance pioneer Dyson will switch headquarters to Singapore this year due to booming Asian demand but not because of Brexit, the company said Tuesday, January 22, 2019. / AFP / Christophe ARCHAMBAULT

James Dyson’s technology firm has transferred £1.3 billion ($1.8bn) to his family office since last year, accelerating the shift of his fortune away from his biggest asset.

Dyson Holdings paid Weybourne Holdings a dividend of £400 million for 2020, the biggest annual cash payout for the British billionaire’s family office, according to registry filings. During the period, Weybourne also received 200 million pounds from the closely held maker of bagless vacuum cleaners and an additional 700 million pounds in January through share capital transfers.

“The family is, in effect, diversifying its interests,” said Richard Murphy, professor of accounting practice at Sheffield University Management School.

Mr Dyson, 74, whose technology company has operations in Asia, Europe, and the US, is the UK’s richest person with a net worth of about $26bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Most of his fortune comes from his stake in his namesake firm.

His family office also received dividends and capital transfers totaling £300m in 2018 and £465m the following year, when Dyson Holdings said it would relocate its headquarter from the UK to Singapore to focus more on Southeast Asia.

As Dyson Holdings shifted the money to Weybourne in 2020, it increased its borrowings by about £300m.

A spokesperson for Dyson declined to comment.

Weybourne, set up eight years ago, had assets of £4.5bn as of May 2019, filings show. The firm, which no longer reports financials and has activities in real estate, farming, and public markets, has expanded its staff to more than two-dozen employees across the UK and Singapore.

James Bucknall, a retired British army officer, is chief executive officer, while former fund manager Bjorn Thelander is chief investment officer. James Pritchard joined last year from Union Bancaire Privee as chief financial officer.

Mr Dyson founded his technology business three decades ago and has extensive UK holdings, with his agricultural firm previously disclosing it oversaw 637 acres of woodland and about 150 homes. He also owns a country estate in England and switched his residency from Singapore back to the UK earlier this year.

Dyson Holdings’ profit increased 12 per cent to £797m last year, with revenue up 5.7 per cent to £5.7bn, according to filings. After abandoning a project in 2019 to build an electric car, the company has focused more on machine learning, robotics and other technologies. It’s also opening a new manufacturing hub in Singapore and starting a university program there targeted at product development.

The family office distributions are unlikely to trigger tax charges in Singapore, which doesn’t typically impose levies on dividends or returns of shareholder capital.

Updated: October 29th 2021, 9:50 AM