Erindi in search for Chinese JV partners
The owners of Erindi are looking for a joint venture partner for the world-renowned 65,000 hectare private game reserve believed to be the biggest of its kind in southern Africa months after denying that the game reserve was up for sale.
In an exclusive story in June 2012, the Economist reported that the game reserve was up for sale for N$1.1 billion, but owners Gert and Paul Joubert feigned knowledge of the sale despite the game reserve being listed on Erindi’s official website www.erindi.com and on a property website LandWatch.com.
However, this week majority shareholder Gert Joubert told reporters that he was looking for a partner or partners, preferably Chinese, to further develop the game reserve now valued at N$1.3 billion. Joubert said: “The owners’ first choice would be a partnership with a large international tourist company….
“Erindi needs to be developed to the next phase where emphasis is placed on upmarket international tourists that fly in, in a Boeing 747 every week with between 200 and 400 international tourists exclusively to Erindi. (China would be a rational choice). Chinese tourism have the potential to solely…. make Namibia the richest country in the world.”
Joubert claimed that he has never earned a salary or taken out a single cent from Erindi in the past 10 years despite having invested over N$100 million in the property that has been in his family for the past 30 years. In an interview with the Economist this week, Joubert spoke about his change of heart on the sale of the game reserve: “To be quite honest with you I was uncertain at that stage [last June]. So there was never a definite no and never a definite yes. I was never willing at that stage to make an emotional commitment towards that [selling]; I was playing with the idea, but it was difficult for me. But now I know what I want.” Asked what will happen if he does not find suitors for the game reserve, Joubert said: “Obviously I have to carry on. I have 200 people working there and I have responsibilities towards the bank and so on. We are making a profit so I am sure I can carry on, but for me to go to the next step that I would like to go, I need money. I would need a couple of millions, I would say 100 to 200 million to invest further to take it to the next level where we are handling international tourists.”
He said targeting international tourists was the next step for Erindi as it brings with it more financial rewards. “You must remember that most of my tourists are South Africans and Namibians, mostly Namibians. I would say 70%. I am thankful for that, but that is not the high market of tourism; overseas tourists are actually the higher paying tourists. If you can get them to come dedicated to your place, you ask even more. We have to go to that next level.”