Hell’s teeth. I thought that a couple of Germans would snap up an Atlantic seaside chateau or two after the world cup. I was hoping that, at best, English fans would forget about their soccer prowess (or lack thereof) and would willingly sink their Anglo Saxon teeth into a couple of local golf resort plots. Since the world cup was in the mist of the global recession I dropped all concepts about camera toting Japanese cashing in their Yen on our game reserves, hotels or world class shopping centres.
But never in my wildest dreams did I think they would come shopping like this! The British, through HSBC, are leading the pack and trying to snap up a stake in Nedbank for R50billion. America’s foremost retailer, Wal-Mart, is bringing a R30billion cash cheque to acquire Massmart Stores. On the technology side Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation is splashing out R24.3billion on local group Didata. Local fashionistas will be interested to know that Spain’s Inditex, Europe’s largest clothing retailer, is now moving into South Africa with its Zara stores.
And all I was expecting was a couple of investors to come here on holiday, enjoy our great facilities and if we were lucky maybe buy some real estate.
So with all local issues still in play, we again prove the Afro-skeptics wrong. These global giants obviously see something that our dinner party detractors don’t. These companies aren’t being put off by JZ, Julius or even a public worker strike or two. They are heading down here in a big way and they will change our social and financial lives forever.
If we thought that 64 soccer games over 4 weeks was exciting, these global investors with their billions will be here for decades.
South Africa is simply sexy in world eyes. We are attracting real companies, with real cash and real investments. Africa is cool and as the continent’s largest economy we are now the gateway into the globe’s most exciting developing region.
Sometimes when I hang around the braais of self-deprecating locals, I actually feel bad. They are just getting it wrong far too often. While the advanced economies try and hang onto their homes and possessions, we are powering ahead with global investment and interest that is breath taking in its speed and scale.
So the world cup did work! It wasn’t cheap but jislaaikit look what quickly followed.