Tice is CEO of the asset management group Quidnet Capital LLP, which has around £500 million of property under management. The company’s website boasts that he “has over 27 years experience in international real estate markets covering physical property, corporate activity, financing and distressed debt in both the quoted and unquoted sectors”. It also notes that Tice “ran his own distressed debt advisory business until late 2009”.
“Distressed debt” is a branch of what many see as “vulture capitalism“, and involves buying up companies that have run into trouble, often because of dire economic conditions. The Guardian has described how this typically works:
“The funds circle struggling firms and buy their debt at a discount to gain control of the business. Usually hedge funds or proprietary desks at large investment banks, the funds may turn their debt into equity in a restructuring, gaining a stake or full control of the firm, or sell the assets in a liquidation, receiving a higher price for the debt than they paid for it.”
Many might think that the economic chaos caused by Brexit will create the ideal conditions for “distressed debt” specialists such as Tice.
Tice, however, prefers to maintain that Brexit is a revolt against the “metropolitan liberal elite” who are “completely oblivious to the concerns of millions of hard-working British families across the country”.
Some of Tice’s property developments have attracted unfavourable attention. With the Earl of Bathurst, he is a director of Bathurst Development Limited, which plans to build thousands of houses on the edge of Cirencester, increasing the size of the town by 40%. Land for the proposed Chesterton development is held by a trust registered in Bermuda – a tax haven – enabling Bathurst Development to avoid paying a very large amount of capital gains tax on the scheme. Lord Bathurst has defended this dodge by saying that when the avoided tax is spread across the UK to the Outer Hebrides “it won’t be very much”.
Until 2014, Tice was CEO of CLS Holdings. One of its lucrative projects (before Tice became CEO) was a major leisure/retail development in Vauxhall that was warmly supported by Tice’s fellow Brexit cheerleader, the constituency’s Labour MP Kate Hoey. Tice’s friendship with Hoey goes back 20 years, according to Arron Banks’ book. He led two major planning applications for over 1.5 million sq ft of property in Vauxhall, including for two 50-storey residential towers.
As co-chair of Leave Means Leave, Tice has urged Theresa May’s government not to agree any kind of transitional arrangement with the EU, which he claims is “completely unnecessary”, and demanded that the UK leave the Single Market “no later than two years after triggering Article 50”. In December 2017 he co-wrote an open letter to May’s Cabinet insisting that it must “break with EU red tape”, and that “it should be non-negotiable that the UK is free to diverge from EU rules and regulations when it leaves the EU on March 29th 2019.”
In June 2017 Tice announced that he was setting up a new, £100m investment trust. “I would have done [this] had Brexit not happened,” he said. “But for all the doomsayers who think the world is going to end, I think the opportunities are growing.”
For certain types of ultra-wealthy investor, there’s little doubt that Brexit will offer very rich pickings indeed.