Hidden U-Haul Billionaire: Emerges With Storage Empire

According to Bloomberg,

Mark V. Shoen had to endure his father’s suicide, a sister-in-law’s murder and an internecine battle on his way to becoming the largest shareholder of Amerco, the parent of truck rental company U-Haul, North America’s biggest moving and storage business.

Becoming a self-storage baron required additional drama, if only in the courtroom. Shoen’s storage empire was the center of a decade-long shareholder suit that splintered his family and left the 62-year-old in control of a business that made him a billionaire.

“The sexy stuff is the lawsuits and fistfights in the boardroom,” Sahm Adrangi, chief investment officer at New York-based Kerrisdale Capital Management LLC, said by phone. “But it’s not relevant to U-Haul anymore. This company has had the same core management team for years.”

Demand for trailer and storage-space rentals has increased as the U.S. housing market rebounds, according to Adrangi. Amerco has jumped 75 percent this year, while the U.S. self-storage sector has rallied more than 11 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The performance has boosted Shoen’s personal fortune. He owns 3.8 million Amerco (UHAL) shares valued at $845 million, and controls 437 storage facilities, almost all of which were purchased from Amerco with $600 million in company-backed loans, according to a 2011 legal opinion of the Supreme Court of Nevada.

Storage Business

U-Haul Trucks (Bloomberg)

U-Haul Trucks (Bloomberg)

The self-storage businesses had combined sales of about $440 million for the year ended March 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, making it the largest self-storage company by revenue after Glendale, California-based Public Storage. (PSA) Shoen has a net worth of $3.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and has never appeared on an international wealth ranking.

Shoen didn’t respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment. Sebastien Reyes, Amerco’s director of investor relations, said the family declined to comment.

“They want people to know how well the company is performing,” he said. “The best way they know how to make that statement is to put their nose to the grindstone and press forward and do what they know how to do well.”

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