Classic Opportunity for SA

Given that the whole world is your oyster, why choose SA?

I was born in Britain but spent part of my youth and initial working life in Durban. We bought a holiday home at Zimbali in 2002 for my family to escape the hot June, July and August months in the Middle East. I woke up to the potential of the place on our first holiday there.

Where does SA fit into your overall strategy?

Africa provides a host of future markets that we can get into early. We already have developments in Zanzibar and Mauritius and are close to finalising projects in Kenya and Mozambique. Zimbabwe could be our next choice. But SA is by far the most important African market for us and we will be investing heavily here.

Why more developments in SA?

The space, the unspoilt beauty, the infrastructure, the prices, of course. But the 2010 soccer World Cup is going to make SA an international destination at last. The World Cup will bring this country into the sharp focus of the world for five years from 2007 to 2012.

More money will be spent by the organisers in that time than SA tourism will spend in 15 years. The build-up and period after the World Cup will bring international focus, new markets and top names and brands.

SA and its tourism industry will be on the world stage and tourists will pour in. Development will take off and prices will rise sharply. Our policy is always to be first in markets and this is a classic opportunity of that sort.

What developments are you planning?

We are looking for a Zimbali-type opportunity on the Western Cape c oast, as close as possible to Cape Town.

We are also finalising an inland development that is likely to be the biggest of its sort in SA and are evaluating opportunities in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Mauritius.

In addition, we are looking to secure investments in service and manufacturing businesses that we can develop in SA and the Middle East. These could include tourism companies, tour operators, furniture suppliers, kitchen manufacturers, restaurants and retail opportunities.

How do you work with Moreland?

They are development experts. We bring international marketing experience. We work together very well as we have clear sets of responsibilities.

Have you brought in international buyers?

We have sold more than R350m in property at Zimbali since December 2003, about R80m this year, at an average 40% up on 2003 prices. About 20% of that was international sales, half to Middle Eastern buyers. We will be bringing further international investment partners to Zimbali and our other potential projects.

What attracts Middle Eastern buyers?

It's a short flight to SA. Durban has a large Muslim population which gives them important religious and other infrastructure. The sophisticated banking, legal and other institutions also make it attractive.

Do you feel you have any advantage in SA over other international developers?

There's more than enough room for all international developers in SA and there is unlikely to be much competition. Most Middle Eastern companies are close to their respective governments, and we are able to develop relationships with your government through our governments.

Article by: By James Wilson - http://free.financialmail.co.za