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New Zealand's richest brothers, Richard and Christopher Chandler, will split up their investments after a 20-year partnership.

The Waikato-raised brothers, who are worth more than US$2 billion, were until recently understood to be based in France. Sovereign Global Investment, the Chandlers' Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based fund, will divide into two separate investment companies from December 1, the fund said in a statement yesterday.

The division "will facilitate the continued development of each of the founders' interests," Sovereign said in the statement.

"All investments will be split 50-50 between the brothers," Sovereign spokesman Richard Barton said in a telephone interview from China. He declined to provide details about Sovereign's funds under management.

Richard Chandler's Sovereign interests will be moved into a new company, Orient Global, with offices in Singapore, Dubai and London.

Christopher Chandler will form Legatum Capital, with offices in Dubai and London. By splitting, the brothers' investment strategies will be "nimbler", the statement said.

"Family bonds remain as warm and strong as ever," it said.

Their are various estimates of the Chandlers' combined wealth. Institutional Investor magazine reported it at US$5 billion in March but in February Forbes magazine estimated it to be about US$2 billion.

The pair founded Sovereign Global, formerly known as Sovereign Asset Management, in 1986 with US$10 million of capital built up by their New Zealand manufacturing, importing, retailing and property development interests.

Eastern Europe Sovereign moved to Monaco in 1986 and to Dubai in 2004.

The firm's investments focused on Hong Kong real estate during the late 1980s and on Latin American treasuries, telecommunications firms and utilities during the early 1990s.