Bloomberg News

Hidden Billionaire Daughters Emerge From Simmons Estate

February 06, 2014

Two billionaire sisters surfaced today after details about the estate of their late father, Harold Simmons, emerged in regulatory filings and a redacted will obtained by Bloomberg News.

Lisa K. Simmons, 58, and Serena Simmons Connelly, 44, control 93.8 percent of Dallas-based Contran Corp., a closely held entity that holds majority stakes in four publicly traded companies: Valhi Inc (VHI:US)., NL Industries Inc (NL:US)., Kronos Worldwide Inc (KRO:US). and CompX International Inc (CIX:US). The companies have a combined market capitalization of $6.4 billion.

The Contran stock is owned through trusts for the benefit of the two siblings, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The combined holdings are valued at $3.8 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Harold Simmons died in Dallas on Dec. 28. He controlled an $8 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“He was a passionate person -- passionate about his family, his business, philanthropy and politics,” oilman T. Boone Pickens, chairman of Dallas-based BP Capital LLC, said in a statement after Simmons’s death.

Valhi and NL Industries are primarily holding companies for Kronos, the world’s third-largest maker of titanium dioxide, a white pigment used in house paint and rayon clothing, and CompX, which makes desk and ergonomic systems.

Phone calls to Simmons, Connelly and three representatives of the companies were not returned.

Simmons Foundation

Lisa Simmons has been president of the Harold Simmons Foundation since 1988. It had assets of $39.9 million and made $18.5 million in charitable gifts in fiscal 2012, according to its most recent disclosed tax return.

She developed the Dallas-based foundation’s grant-making policy and procedures and manages all grant proposals, according to the foundation’s website. She holds an undergraduate degree from Duke University.

Her sister, Serena Simmons Connelly, is the director of philanthropy at the same foundation, where she started as a grant reviewer in 1999. She holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Harold Simmons’s widow, Annette, inherited all of Valhi’s preferred stock, which has a liquidation value of $667.34 million, according to the company’s annual report. The preferred shares have the right to receive an annual $40 million dividend.

Redacted Will

The late billionaire’s will was redacted by Dallas probate judge Michael E. Miller after the sisters petitioned the court to seal the public document in January.

“Like Mrs. Simmons, Ms. Connelly also is very concerned about her and her children’s privacy, safety and security if the Court records in Mr. Simmons’ estate file are not sealed,” Carrie Huff, Connelly’s attorney, wrote in a letter to the court on Jan. 30.

A copy of the will shows Simmons distributed ranches in Texas and Arkansas, as well as his Dallas Cowboys luxury suite, to various individuals. He also ordered the sale of his Montecito, California residence, where he was a neighbor of Oprah Winfrey.

The will said the sale of the Montecito property and other assets listed in the estate could be worth at least $444 million after taxes. Annette Simmons was given the couple’s primary residence in Texas and its contents. Other items cited by Simmons in the will were also redacted by the court.

Disinherited Daughters

Two other daughters of the late billionaire didn’t inherit any assets from the estate, according to the will. The pair -- Scheryle Patigian and Andrea Swanson -- sued Simmons in 1997, claiming their father was misusing assets he had placed in trust for them.

The parties settled out of court in 1998, with each daughter receiving $50 million, according to a Feb. 11, 1998, article in the New York Times (NYT:US).

Harold Simmons was born in 1931 to two schoolteachers in Wood County, Texas, and played basketball at the University of Texas. He bought his first business, a drug store, for $5,000 and a $95,000 loan in 1961, building it into a chain he sold in 1973 for $50 million.

He would later own a sugar-beet processor, a savings and loan business, and a fast-food franchisee. The billionaire also made unsuccessful bids to buy defense contractor Lockheed Corp. and Pacific Southwest Airlines Inc. in the 1980s.

During the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Simmons donated to the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth group that questioned the Vietnam war record of then-presidential candidate John Kerry.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Coffey in Boston at bcoffey10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Newcomb at pnewcomb2@bloomberg.net


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Companies Mentioned

  • VHI
    (Valhi Inc)
    • $6.75 USD
    • -0.02
    • -0.3%
  • NL
    (NL Industries Inc)
    • $9.66 USD
    • -0.03
    • -0.31%
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