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In spite of controlling a £6bn property empire centred on London and the South East, Pears has managed to keep itself under the radar for the best part of the last 60 years.
Until now. Mark Pears, the 48 year-old coming patriarch of the family, wants to talk – but on his terms. He won't have his picture taken – or even furnish The Sunday Telegraph with a picture of himself.

He won't discuss the family's wealth – estimated by to be £1.6bn. He won't even confirm which of the company's complex labyrinth of operating and investment companies – Companies House lists him as being a director of 212 separate entities – is its main holding company, or how much profit the group makes.

But what he does want to talk about is the property empire his family has built over the past six decades. One of the key reasons for speaking out for the first time – having run the business since 1984, aged 21, following the death of his father, who founded it with his grandfather – is to set the record straight, and reveal early-stage plans for a new European property fund.
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