“One of France’s richest men” invests heavily in Portugal

His name is Claude Berda. He is described as “one of the richest men in France” and he is investing heavily in Portuguese real estate.

According to Expresso, Berda’s representative José Cardoso Botelho “who has created Vanguard Properties” means to plough €300 million into four properties in Lisbon and two tourist complexes – one in Porches, in the Algarve and another in Comporta (near Tróia).

Investments for now are focused on the luxury end of the market, says the paper, though plans for the future extend to the “very lucrative activities” of youth hostels and co-working centres.

Botelho is quoted as telling Expresso that “a large part” of the properties purchased by Vanguard used to be owned by Estamo – part of State entity Parpública which takes over properties seized in bankruptcies – and former Azores bank (sold to Santander Totta after its spectacular collapse), Banif.

But the small print of the article shows that only a third of the capital at play is Berda’s (or should we say Vanguard’s).

The company “entered Portugal with €100 million of its own money” but to develop its projects it is financing itself through national banks, to the tune of €200 million.

Botelho mentions finance underway through Montepio (elsewhere in the news for serious cash issues) and BPI.

According to Expresso’s article, Vanguard is “defining its next steps” in which it hopes to “engage with private and foreign investors seeking opportunities in the national property market”.

“We are not interested in partnerships with investment funds as we are more interested in quick decision making, something that is not easy to achieve with the structure of funds”, said Botelho. “But there are more and more ‘family offices’ looking at Portugal, seeking local partners who know the market and with whom they can increase their capital”.

Two proposals are currently being studied, he added, from Norway and the U.S. – the latter being a company with huge experience in the market of university residences and co-working centres” – sectors Vanguard means to concentrate on in future.

Meantime, the complex purchased by Vanguard in the Algarve is one where building work stopped short in 2012. The company means to resume construction this year, said Botelho.

As for a background check on France’s wealthy investor: Berda has an interesting one. His father was born in Tunisia, his mother in Poland and he grew up in Morocco. He arrived in France at the age of 18, beginning by selling jeans on the French Riviera.

Now a television magnate, aged 70, Berda enjoys both French and Swiss nationalities, and, according to Wikipedia, lives in Brussels.

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