Sam Zell Touts Brazil Investment
Zell said that globalization means that the gap between emerging markets and the West is closing. The "West" is old with poor demographics. For example, the demographics in Japan, Eastern Europe, Russia and Italy are poor. Brazil has a young population with a growing middle class. The middle class currently comprises 25% of the population and Zell sees the middle class growing to over 60% of the population of 180 million.
Zell is also bullish about the natural resource wealth in Brazil. Brazil has an abundance food, energy and water. However, poor infrastructure means that there are massive productivity improvements that can be made.
Zell was also complimentary about the educated workforce in Brazil that are starting to embrace Western style management methods.
Brazilian consumers also have lots of pent-up demand. There is chronic housing shortage of 8-10 million units which is in contrast to the oversupply in the United States. Zell is primarily a real estate investor and he has been scooping up prime residential properties. He has about $1 billion invested in Brazilian companies, such as Gafisa (GFA) and BR Malls, and he intends to invest more in sectors like the hotel industry and infrastructure.
Finally, Zell commented that Brazil feels like the United States in the 1950s.
Other markets that Zell is favorable on include Colombia and Mongolia.