A brief history of Daejan Holdings

Daejan was incorporated as Daejan Samoedra Estates Limited on 18 September 1935 in order to acquire several plantation businesses in the far east growing rubber and coffee in the Dutch East Indies. The insurgency action in the region from 1949 which led to the independence of Indonesia resulted in a number of plantations being occupied or destroyed. The island of Java where the main plantations were located subsequently formed part of modern Indonesia. Daejan maintained its listing on the London Stock Exchange listed company but sold its remaining commodity assets and Indonesian real estate and became a dormant shell company by 1955.

Meanwhile, Mr Osias Freshwater who was born in 1897 in the village of Sasson, Galacia in Poland had arrived in the UK via Danzig in 1939 on the last ship to leave the port before the outbreak of the Second World War on a business visa with the intention of procuring visas for his family. As Poland was invaded his wife and three children subsequently fled from Danzig to Lvov but perished in the holocaust.

Later settling in London’s East End in 1947 Osias Freshwater married Nechama Stempel the widowed daughter of Rabbi Bobov who together with her two children had evaded the Nazis to survive the war. The two sons of Osias and Nechama Freshwater are the Directors of the present Daejan Holdings Company.

By 1959 the Freshwater property business was firmly established, having acquired a number of landmark buildings in London and in that year those assets were inserted into Daejan by means of a reverse takeover. The London listing was retained and the name of the Company changed from Daejan Samoedra Estates Limited to Daejan Holdings Limited.

Progress from then on was quite rapid as portfolios of residential property and later commercial buildings were acquired. In one such transaction in the 1960’s more than 3,000 houses and flats were bought at what today would seem a paltry consideration. During this period the Group was often referred to as London’s largest private landlord. In 1972 the Group acquired City and Country Properties Limited which had a property portfolio valued at £32.7 million compared to that of £51.8 million owned by Daejan at the time.

In 1996 Daejan purchased a portfolio of 19 modern supermarkets and commercial properties from British Land Plc for a consideration of £82.7 million. Later diversification saw a portfolio of property on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States being developed as the Company sought to spread its risk over several property investment areas.

Mr Osias Freshwater died in 1976 with his eldest son and current Chairman Benzion being appointed Chairman of the board in 1980. His youngest son, Solomon Freshwater also joined the board where he has responsibility for sales and the United States portfolio. Whilst the Freshwater family retains a controlling interest there are 1,500 shareholders holding shares which have a full listing on the London Stock Exchange.