3: VON ESSEN AVIATION

Von Essen Aviation is the helicopter arm of secret millionaire Andrew Davis’s burgeoning hotels and air transport group. Davis is the sole owner of a collection of some 30 luxury hotels, including Cliveden Country House and the Royal Crescent in Bath as well as several hotels in France and one in Monaco. The Von Essen name is said to derive from Davis’s Austrian aunt, Countess Von Essen – rumoured to be the basis of Davis’s fortune. The holding company for the group is called Von Essen Mining and Development, which shows tangible assets of some £265m. A mysterious man, Davis says that he made his money in “art, property and then art again”. What is definitely not mysterious is the scale of the burgeoning Von Essen business empire: in April 2007, Von Essen Aviation acquired both PremiAir Aviation Group from Sir Robert McAlpine and London Heliport Ltd. Later this year, the group will be opening Hotel Verta, the first integrated hotel heliport in the world.

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