Billionaire Razon braves Davos for Nigeria

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IOL BR Razon 933772 Bloomberg Enrique Razon, billionaire and chairman of Bloomberry Resorts. Photo: Bloomberg.

Filipino mogul Enrique Razon loathes rubbing shoulders with his fellow billionaires in Davos, Switzerland.

“It’s loaded with bloated self-importance,” the casino and cargo-terminal owner said on Friday in the Swiss village, where he was wrapping up his second trip to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting. “I’m here to do business, not save the world.”

Razon, who controls a $4.7 billion (R51.4bn) fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index, is one of at least 80 billionaires in town. Most have spent their time attending panels on the state of the global economy, debating income inequality and attending parties with bankers.

Razon, 53, said he flew to Switzerland from his home in the Philippines to meet with a delegation of politicians from Nigeria. Just getting to them proved notably annoying.

“It’s like going through an airport five or six times a day,” he said, referring to the maze of police checks and metal detectors before attendees could enter the event’s Congress Centre.

Last year, Razon’s International Container Terminal Services signed a deal to develop and operate a port in Lagos, Nigeria, by 2016, investing $225 million in the venture. He said the country was the best place to invest this year.

“They produce over 2 million barrels of oil a day, huge population, gross domestic product close to $300bn,” he said. “They need power, they need ports, they need many things. The government is much more serious than in the past of trying to build up infrastructure and build the economy. They are a very powerful consumer economy.”

Nissan is planning to produce its first cars in Nigeria in April. The company’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn told President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday in Davos he saw demand of as much as 3 million cars a year in the country.

The Nigerian delegation, including Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, passed out green and white scarves to conference attendees on Wednesday, many of whom wore them throughout the day.

Razon found himself in the minority in his global outlook too. International investors are the most upbeat about the global economy than at any time in almost five years, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll released on the eve of the WEF. Some billionaires attending the event said they expected to be richer by the time they returned next year.

“The reality is business has been run by monetary policy since 2009. Period,” Razon said. “Liquidity has sort of reflated the bubble. We’re sort of in that party mode… but my feeling is absolutely it’s going to end.” – Matthew G. Miller and Toni Parsons from Bloomberg

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