OC’s Wealthiest 2023: Paul Merage



THE MONEY: Along with brother David, co-founded Chef American Inc., a frozen foods company that sold in 2002 to Nestlé for $2.6 billion. Name on top of UCI business school.

THE NUMBERS: After sale of frozen food business, began MIG Capital, which has about $1 billion in assets and is managed by son Richard. Nephew Greg manages real estate arm with more than 10 million square feet and nearly 7,000 multifamily units and over 1,700 hotel rooms (see story, page 4). Brother Cam is founder and CEO of First Team Real Estate, an Irvine-based real estate team.

BIG BREAK: Inventor in 1983 of Hot Pockets. “With an eye for change, Paul recognized the demographic and social shifts in America—more working parents, less time to prepare meals for families and an array of advances made possible with the expanding use of the microwave oven,” UCI said.

REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS: Village at Indian Wells, Avila Apartments in Rancho Santa Margarita. Real estate arm of MIG typically invests $15 million to $100 million on multifamily, hotels and grocery-anchored retail.

PHILANTHROPY: The Paul & Elisabeth Merage Family Foundation counts close to $50 million in assets, according to public records. Recent donations included $511,000 to UCI’s Shaping the Future Campaign, $200,000 to Sage Hill School, and $58,000 to Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Also gave $500,000 to the Merage Institute Business Executive Leadership Program to promote innovation to spur new opportunities in fields like cybersecurity and medical devices. It has programs often targeted at encouraging entrepreneurship in Israel, including those over 45 years old.

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