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Cape developer tempts Trump into SA deal

Posted On Monday, 01 September 2008 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Cape Town property developer Neill Bernstein has secured an exclusive 10-year property development deal with US mega-billionaire Donald Trump.

Donald TrumpDetails of the deal, which covers the southern Africa and Indian Ocean regions, are to be revealed at a news conference in Cape Town next month.

All that Bernstein, whose Devland Holdings remains active in the Cape property market, would reveal at the moment was: “Basically, anything that’s going to be done here, in South Africa, or Mauritius, is through me.”

Proposed projects, however, could include condominiums, condo-hotels, golf estates and possibly casinos.

The partnership with the Trump Organisation is the realisation of a life-long ambition for the entrepreneur who began his career making pizzas in a Plumstead restaurant — before buying it and then selling it.

Bernstein has been an ardent admirer of The Donald’s style.

As a young man, he read Trump’s first business book, 1987’s The Art of the Deal, and was struck by a ‘‘Donaldism” he found in the book’s closing chapter: ‘‘What I admire most are people who put themselves directly on the line.”

The quote so impressed Bernstein that he had a calligrapher copy it out and mounted it on the wall in his office.

Then he began pestering Trump for an audience.

“I wanted anything,” Bernstein said. “Just five minutes. A telephone call. Anything.”

In 1992, he got a face-to-face with Trump — but the magnate expressed little interest in South Africa at the time.

“He didn’t want to do business with the previous government,” Bernstein said.

But Bernstein persisted. Nine weeks ago, he returned to New York, and this time he had an ally within the Trump Organisation — Donald John Trump Jr, The Donald’s eldest child and an executive vice president in his father’s business.

“He’s mad about South Africa,” Bernstein said. “He came out here when he was in college and he just loves the place.”

This, he added, was despite concerns about crime and various other social problems currently bedevilling foreign investment in the country.

“Look, it’s not so much that he’s aware or he’s concerned. The best way to explain it is, as I did to him, was, whether it’s now or whether it was five years ago, you could have driven up 283rd St [in Manhattan] and taken a left and driven into White Castle or the wrong neighbourhood and you could also get taken out in a gang shooting.”

This, Bernstein suggested, was typical of big cities the world over. Crime happens.

Nevertheless, he believed the Trumps could do good business here.


Last modified on Friday, 30 May 2014 10:54