Billionaires For Africa


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By Belliah K Theise

 b6_edited.jpegThis week ‘s memo is about  the next Zambian president. Who should take the Zambian presidential sit in 2011?

I hate to admit this, the truth is, our leaders are always voted by villagers, marketeers and street boys who have no clue about education and foreign policies. 

 According to our observation, most politicians have a way to get into a mind of a person with little knowledge or no knowledge at all.  This includes developed countries. If you take a close look on politics, you will find that people end up voting for a candidates who keeps preaching what voters want to hear. People will go out to vote just because of a hear say,  without assessing a candidate  in practical terms.

In most cases, political Candidates have a tendency to study what the audience want to hear. Any one can stand and say I will give you jobs, bring rich breakfast, lunch and dinner in your home. Zambian Voters will listen because there are no jobs and are in poverty. As a candidate, you are happy when people vote for you. Are you going to keep your promise once you are voted in office?

 Practically, things always turns out to be different from all the promises that politicians make.

it’s time for candidates who are aspiring, to start preaching on practical issues and not to give fake hopes to people. Talk about real things that affects the economy of every country, and explain, to voters that it is not an easy path to bring stability to the country, it takes hard work and devotion to make things happen.

Disappointments, comes out when a candidate makes fake promises, do something else after being voted into office. We ask all the aspiring candidates to be more practical in the way they make promises to people, to avoid early disappointments.

It is not fair for voters  who have no clue on “Inflation” or economics, who listens innocently and line up to vote for a candidate who later does something contrary to his/her promise.

Zambia has highly experienced ,knowledgeable, and educated people.  Why is it that Zambians ends up voting for wrong leaders?

Could it be that all the educated Zambians, are too frustrated with the system, and has opted to sit back and watch, while the poor Zambian villagers , marketeers and street boys take their stand to vote for what they hear from those who can read their minds and give them fake promises? or could it be that qualified leaders and educated Zambians are  too busy with other duties and other personal stuff, or they are not brave enough to fight for their people or  is it lack of bringing themselves out with a positive approach to their fellow Zambians?

 If you are candidate or a voter. It is time to revisit your weaknesses and try to improve on them.

Our advice is:

Avoid:  Hate, tribal, gossip, and malicious rumors. By all means, should not be used as a tool to pick a right candidate for president. Validate each rumor, use your own discretion and common sense. Avoid operating like robots that are programed to perform certain functions.  Operating like a robot, makes both leaders and their voters look like idiots, when things go sour.

Remember:

Not every rumor or gossip is true. Yes there is no smoke without fire, but you have to remember that humans always enjoy negatives that appear on a candidate without using their good sense of judgement or common sense, they vote basing on those facts. If a negative outweighs a positive side of a candidate, it takes away all the good work he/she has done.

Remember, Media and campaigns are there to help voters to pick the best candidate, but at the same time, uses that as a tool to bring down a candidate, if the opponent has strong links to the media.  Many great leaders are brought down in no seconds, and voters end up voting for useless candidates.

Again… use your common sense and your good judgement, when you read negatives that comes flying on potential candidates.

On that note, we decided to re-visit Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika’s profile, as she seem to be carrying all the package of what makes a great president.

We at Zambian Chronicle, would like to see Dr Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika, contest for president in 2011. We have well rounded Zambian candidates like, HH and Many more, Inonge adds to the package.

For years, Zambians have had a problem when it comes to picking a president. It’s time to check where Zambians go wrong when it comes to voting?

Weakness:

We Vote with emotions, tribal, rumors and hate, Worse more when it comes to gender. 

In the end we get disappointed with our own voting when things go in a different direction. 

May be it is time to turn around, and look seriously inside lives and works of the aspiring candidates, without looking at a tribe, relations, cheap gossips or malicious rumors.

It is even more difficult to convince a Zambian mind, when it comes to women leadership.

When we look at Zambians, we see a lot of potential candidates men and women, that can lead us in 2011, and bring light to Zambia. 

I am not here advocating for Inonge because I am a woman.

Here at Zambian Chronicle, we are looking at the credentials, Education and experience.

Zambia needs a candidate for president, that has both local and foreign policy experience. As an African country we can not rule out education. It should be very cardinal  in this aspect.

 Therefore when it comes to choosing a president, let us open our eyes and pick quality and not quantity.

Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika and Hakainde Hichilema are both quality.

Having said that, Zambian Chronicles will continue to bring out candidates, that we think can make great president for Zambia in the future.

As we pointed out, in our earlier debates, Hakainde Hichilema and Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika, have the real package.

Therefore, without looking at the tribes and gender, we feel Inonge can make a great president for Zambia for 2011. This includes, the appointees of ministers and local government officials.

This forum may help the next Zambian President to pick right candidates for certain roles.

Below is Inonge ‘s profile and credentials:

Copyrights © 2008 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

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Princess Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika (born 10 July 1943, Senanga) is a senior Zambian politician currently. For more about her check

http://www.inongelewanika.com/family.htm

   1.   Dr. Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika is currently Ambassador of the Republic of Zambia to the United States of America . Before her appointment to Washington D.C.

 2. She was Ambassador and Special Envoy to the Zambian President during his term as Chairman of the African Union.

3. Dr. Lewanika served as a Member of Parliament in the Zambian Parliament from 1991 to 2001. She was the first Chairperson of the Zambia All Party Women Parliamentarians Caucus and also founding Vice-chairperson of the outhern, Eastern and Horn of Africa African Women Parliamentarian Caucus.

  

4. At a very critical time just before national elections in 2001, Dr. Lewanika chaired the National Crisis Committee of the Alliance of Opposition Political Parties.

5.  She is a former candidate for President of the Republic of Zambia in the December 2001 Elections.

6.  She is an Educator by profession and has worked in various levels of Education.

Prior to her involvement in politics, Dr. Lewanika worked with UNICEF in key leadership roles in Africa overseeing more than twenty countries at a time. Jim Grant, the former head of UNICEF once called her “the most knowledgeable person about the children of Africa .” Dr. Lewanika was among five women from various continents to brief members of the United Nations Security Council on the first and unprecedented debate that resulted in UN Resolution 13 on WOMEN, PEACE and SECURITY in the year 2000. She was among sixteen (16) eminent African Women Members of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) Committee on Peace and Development, an Advisory Group to the African Union.

She was President of Federation of African Women’s Peace Networks (FERFAP) from 1997 to 2002. As President of the Federation of African Women Peace Networks (FEFAP) she contributed to mobilization of peace activities. In that capacity, she was selected to be among ten prominent African Women Peace Workers that visited Rwanda soon after the genocide. She later led a United Nations delegation to Burundi and Rwanda to assess the effects of the genocide on women and children and recommend intervention strategies. She led the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) Observer Mission of 96 Southern African

Academicians, Researchers and Members of Civil Society to the Zimbabwean Presidential, Mayoral and Council Elections in 2002. She was one of the International Youth Foundation’s founding board members.

Dr. Lewanika holds a Ph.D. in Early Childhood and Primary Education from New York University . She is a mother of two grown daughters, a grandmother to four boys and a grand daughter. She has lived in five countries and speaks eight languages.

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A look at more of  Inonge Mbikusita Lewanika’s work Below: 

After 30 years of promoting girls’ education in the less-developed world, aid workers are now realizing that it is not enough to simply open the school door to girls. Unemployment, clean water and HIV/AIDS are now also on their agenda.
Inonge Mbikusita-LewanikaWASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)–Like many aid workers and activists trying to improve the lives of women in developing countries, Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika has long viewed education as the key to solving many of her countrywomen’s problems.Mbikusita-Lewanika, a former member of Zambia’s parliament and now the country’s ambassador to the United States, says the benefits of educating girls are so numerous– from raising marrying ages and lowering birth rates to stemming health and economic problems–that she would like to install a plaque reading “Send the Girls to School” in every village.But 30 years after the U.S. government and other aid-givers began to promote gender equality in their programs, they, like Mbikusita-Lewanika, have learned that relieving the burdens of poor women is more complex than once thought. Foreign aid officials from the United States, United Kingdom, United Nations and various nongovernmental organizations say that it is not enough to open the school door to girls if their families are besieged by unemployment, unclean water, labor-intensive household chores and, increasingly, debilitating health problems such as HIV/AIDS. Nor is it enough to get a few women elected to the parliament or congress while women in the countryside still suffer age-old discriminations.To succeed, say aid experts, gender-equality programs must be integrally incorporated into the aid process from top to bottom, beginning with constant attention to gender issues at the policy level and ending with a wide distribution of burden-relieving aid in the rural areas where discrimination is often most ingrained.In Africa, for instance, women perform about 75 percent of agricultural work, according to Mark Blackden, the lead economist in the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Management of Gender Equity Division. He estimates the continent’s per-capita income would have doubled over the last 30 years if women had been given more aid and education to help with crop production. But aid givers have only recently realized that “one does indeed need to talk about the African farmer and her husband,” Blackden said.Instead, because of cultural misunderstandings, they have often directed agricultural education and technology to men. As a result, Mbikusita-Lewanika said, it is not uncommon to see men sitting on tractors as women and girls continue to cultivate with a hand hoe nearby.Clearing a small plot of land in this manner can involve 18-hour days, leaving women little time to raise their children, gather fire wood, walk long distances to find potable water and, increasingly, care for the sick. With such intensive household labor needs, Mbikusita-Lewanika said girls often have little time for school.”The average woman takes care of everyone else but herself,” Mbikusita-Lewanika said at a recent Capitol Hill briefing for legislative staff.In countries where economies have been destroyed by conflict or AIDS, another factor diminishes the rationale for education: The lack of jobs when a girl graduates. As a result, Mbikusita-Lewanika said that, while education “may be the most important investment, it may not necessarily be the first investment” that donors should undertake. For instance, providing drinking water would save women in many Zambian villages 1 1/2 hours a day, she said.In 1973, the U.S. Congress passed the Percy Amendment requiring that the nation’s foreign aid help integrate women into the mainstream of developing countries’ societies. Since then, the U.S. Agency for International Development–the main administrator of U.S. development aid–and other organizations have progressed from conducting a few gender equality projects a year to considering gender issues as a part of nearly every decision. While women’s issues once were often segregated in a separate office or set of discussions, all programs are now expected to address their impact on women.”The progress can be summed up in one sentence: It is no longer a separate thing,” USAID administrator Andrew S. Natsios told a Washington foreign aid conference earlier this month.

More Work to Be Done

Still, aid officials and activists say there is much more to do. According to the World Bank, more than 20 percent of the world’s population still lives on about $1 per day. The majority are women. And women’s burdens, especially in AIDS-stricken Africa, are growing as they bear bigger social and financial burdens.

One way donors can begin to lift that burden, Mbikusita-Lewanika told legislative staff, is to bypass governments and distribute aid money to local faith-based organizations and other groups that work at the local level and already know the intricate problems the women in their community face. Many central governments have not established effective ways to distribute help in the countryside, she said.

Other officials suggest increasing funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. The $2 billion the Bush administration is prepared to spend in 2004 “is not enough,” said Kathryn Wolford, president of Lutheran World Relief, based in Baltimore.

Wolford also suggests an increased focus on debt relief for poor countries, which would free funds for social programs and infrastructure that could relieve women’s burdens.

Other activists say aid organizations need to collect and process more data showing the positive link between women’s participation and economic development. While many activists suggest that there is already too much talk about women’s problems and not enough action to solve them, economists say that more convincing evidence of the link between women’s progress and economic progress could be found.

At the foreign aid conference, Phil Evans, the senior social development adviser for the United Kingdom’s U.N. mission, said that statistical gender analyses are often riddled with “methodological problems,” in large part because researchers have focused on studying women instead of placing them in a societal context.

Some say the United States should signal its commitment to gender equality by ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, an international treaty that aims to outlaw discrimination against women and requires signatory countries to periodically report on their progress. President Carter signed the treaty in 1980 but the U.S. Senate has not ratified it as 174 nations have done.

Ratifying the treaty would send a powerful signal that the United States will join the world to “use the instruments available to us to hold countries accountable” for improving women’s lives, Geeta Rao Gupta, president of the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women, told legislative staff.

New Solutions in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, USAID is attempting to deal with these challenges and its methods are not always very subtle. To encourage families to educate their daughters, USAID gives extra rations of vegetable oil to girls who attend school every day for a month, Natsios said. The number of girls attending school has increased overall from 6 percent to 35 percent, Natsios said, and is reaching 50 percent in some towns.

Not all of USAID’s work in Afghanistan is so targeted at women and girls but Natsios said he has found that nearly every project is having an impact on women’s status. For instance, the U.S. program that is building a 300-mile road from Kandahar to Kabul is unexpectedly improving women’s health in southern Afghanistan. Now mothers in childbirth and women in other forms of medical distress can be driven to medical facilities in Kabul in a matter of five to six hours. Before the road was built, the trip could take two days, Natsios said.

In addition, USAID has installed day-care centers in all Afghan government ministry buildings. Natsios said women who work for the ministries–many now widows with young children–said they would not return to their jobs unless their children had a safe place to go.

While many activists and government officials say gender issues are no longer seen as women’s alone, they hope the next 30 years will bring a greater resolution to age-old problems.

“It has taken a very long time to get as far as we are and (we) have a very long road to go,” said Julia Taft, assistant administrator and director of the United Nation’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.

Lori Nitschke is a freelance journalist living in Washington, D.C. She was recently a Knight-Bagehot fellow at Columbia University in New York, where she received master’s degrees in journalism and business administration. Previously, she covered economic issues for Congressional Quarterly.

Copyrights © 2008 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

Copyrights © 2008 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc   

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ABOUT 500 workers at Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS) have been issued with summary dismissal letters following their two-day riotous behaviour in protest against alleged poor conditions of service. And Police have apprehended seven CCS workers in relation to the riot that took place on Tuesday at the copper smelter company.Both CCS company secretary, Sun Chuanqi, and Copperbelt permanent secretary, Jennifer Musonda, confirmed the figure of the dismissed workers in separate interviews yesterday. Mr Chuanqi revealed that company property worth about US$200,000 was allegedly destroyed by the irate workers during the riot.He said management was saddened that the workers rioted before the conclusion of negotiations with union representatives.

Mr Chuanqi said the workers had been given a grace period of three days within which to exculpate themselves and show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.

He complained that work had been adversely affected by the workers’ riotous behaviour.

Mr Chuanqi warned that all workers identified as ring leaders would be dismissed from employment to discourage others from behaving in a similar manner.

By press time yesterday more than 19 alleged ring leaders had been identified while more than 66 workers collected their summary dismissal letters.

Mr Chuanqi appealed to workers to exculpate themselves within the stipulated time so that the innocent ones could be reinstated.

“We’re appealing to the workers to respond quickly to the summary dismissal letters so that those that did not take part in the riotous behaviour could be reinstated because work has been grossly affected and we need local manpower,” he said.

Mr Chuanqi said CCS belonged to Zambians and wondered why the workers destroyed what belonged to them simply because of a dispute that could have been resolved amicably.

“What we are building here also belongs to Zambians, so people must desist from destroying this investment. For those who will not come to collect their letters, we will follow them until they get them so that they can exculpate themselves,” he said.

However, Mr Chuanqi paid tribute to government for its continued support to Chinese investment in Zambia.

He also said the Chinese worker only identified as a Mr Li who was injured during the riot on Tuesday was discharged from the hospital.

And Mrs Musonda also confirmed that workers were served with summary dismissal letters when they reported for work yesterday.

A check by the Zambia Daily Mail crew yesterday at the CCS premises found several riot police officers manning the company.

Some Zambian workers were found waiting to collect their summary dismissal letters while others were reluctant to collect them, claiming that they did not take part in the riot.

Those spoken to said they were ignorant about the whole thing and that they were just forced by some of their colleagues to riot.

Copperbelt Police commanding officer, Antonneil Mutentwa, revealed that six officials of the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and their member were apprehended by police in connection with the riot.

Mr Mutentwa said the union officials and their member were apprehended around 17: 45 hours on Tuesday.
NUMAW national secretary Albert Mando condemned the action by the workers to riot and damage company property.

“We are not in support of what the workers did. We are also disappointed with what happened on Tuesday because the negotiations have not yet collapsed, so why strike or riot?” Mr Mando said.

Zambia Daily Mail

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Times of Zambia reports…

Chambishi fires 500

 ALL the 500 striking workers at Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS) were yesterday fired while seven National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) branch officials were arrested and detained on Tuesday evening.

The workers were served with letters of summary dismissal by management in the morning.

The move by management was as a result of the riotous behaviour by the workers at the company premises on Tuesday morning.

Police said those arrested were detained at Kitwe Central Police Station to help with investigations.

The workers at the Chinese-owned company had been on strike since Monday, demanding improved conditions of service.

The situation worsened on Tuesday when the workers decided to become violent and damaged property worth millions of Kwacha.

Both CCS company secretary, Sun Chuanqi and NUMAW national secretary, Albert Mando, confirmed that all the 500 workers who took part in the work stoppage had been served with letters of summary dismissal and had been given three days in which to exculpate themselves.

But Mr Mando said it was unfortunate that management had decided to serve the workers with letters of summary dismissal, saying there was no reason to continue with negotiations when its members had been served with letters of dismissal.

He, however, said his union would work hard to ensure that the seven branch union officials, who had been arrested, were released so that negotiations could continue.

“Yes, I have been told that the management at the company has also served the workers with letters of summary dismissal, but it is unfortunate management has resolved to take this stance.

“This decision by management will affect our negotiations because how do we negotiate when our members have been given letters of summary dismissal,” Mr Mando said.

And speaking in an interview at CCS, Mr Chuanqi said the management at the company had decided to serve its workers with letters of summary dismissal as a way of disciplining them for their riotous behaviour, but that they were free to exculpate themselves.

He said management was eager to listen to the concerns of the workers, but was saddened that the workers quickly resolved to become riotous and damaged property at the company.

He said the Chinese investment in Zambia was there to benefit both Zambians and Chinese and there was no reason for Zambian workers to become violent and damage property.

“As management, we do not take pleasure in dismissing our employees, but we want them to know that violence does not pay and that they have to do things according to the law. Problems arise where there are people, but things must be done correctly,” Mr Chuanqi said.

And Mr Mando confirmed the detention of the seven union branch officials and that he was trying to secure their release.

Mr Mando, who was still at the Kitwe Central Police Station by Press time, said those arrested were branch chairman, Oswell Chibale Malume, vice-branch chairman, Christopher Yumba, branch secretary, Steven Kabwe, branch vice-secretary, Christopher Nkandu, treasurer, Kafwaya Ndombwani, vice-treasurer, Chanda Mhango and a shop steward, Kachinga Silungwe.

Mr Mando said the seven were picked up on Tuesday evening and had not been formally charged although they were still being interrogated.

“Yes I can confirm that seven of NUMAW branch officials at Chambishi Copper Smelter have been arrested and detained at Kitwe central police station. They were picked up around 18:00 hours on Tuesday.

“I am actually at the police station, but I have not talked to them because they are still being interrogated and have not been formally charged. As a union, we are trying to secure their release,” Mr Mando said.

The Times team which went to CCS found the place deserted with only armed police dotted all over to keep vigil.

End of report.

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Mexico Eyes Carlos Slim's Stupendous Wealth

Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim Helu , Chairman of Grupo Carso, speaks as former president Bill Clinton looks on during a news conference about the Clinton Foundation’s launching of a new sustainable development initiative in Latin America in New York. Slim has committed at least $100 million to the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)    Source: Associated Press

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ALTThere was a one hour interview on CNBC with Warren Buffett, the second richest man in America who has donated $31 billion to charity. Here are some very interesting aspects of his life:

1. He bought his first share at age 11 and he now regrets that he started too late!

2. He bought a small farm at age 14 with savings from delivering newspapers.

3. He still lives in the same small 3-bedroom house in mid-town Omaha , that he bought after he got married 50 years ago. He says that he has everything he needs in that house. His house does not have a wall or a fence.

4. He drives his own car everywhere and does not have a driver or security people around him.

5. He never travels by private jet, although he owns the world’s largest private jet company.

6. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns 63 companies. He writes only one letter each year to the CEOs of these companies, giving them goals for the year. He never holds meetings or calls them on a regular basis. He has given his CEO’s only two rules. Rule number 1: do not lose any of your share holder’s money. Rule number 2: Do not forget rule number 1.

7. He does not socialize with the high society crowd. His past time after he gets home is to make himself some pop corn and watch Television.

8. Bill Gates, America’s richest man met him for the first time only 5 years ago. Bill Gates did not think he had anything in common with Warren Buffett. So he had scheduled his meeting only for half hour. But when Gates met him, the meeting lasted for ten hours and Bill Gates became a devotee of Warren Buffett.

9. Warren Buffett does not carry a cell phone, nor has a computer on his desk.

His advice to young people: “Stay away from credit cards and invest in yourself and Remember:

A. Money doesn’t create man; it is the man who created money.

B. Live your life as simple as you are.

C. Don’t do what others say, just listen to them, but do what you feel good.

D. Don’t go for brand name; just wear those things in which u feel comfortable.

E. Don’t waste your money on unnecessary things; just spend on those who really are in need.

F. After all it’s your life so why give chance to others to rule your life.”

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Somehow it gets ingrained in our African minds that a culture of suffering, poverty and an unassuming nature is synonymous with life. For us for the most part, we tend to shun away from success, we tend to consider it a pariah. 

As long as we are getting along just fine, as long as life is not ducking a bad blow to us, it tends to be hallelujah all the way. It looks like we are fine with a life of a paycheck to another paycheck … an employee and not an employer, a worker not an owner; just listen to our politicians and you will get the grip. 

In fact, African nations are ranked at the bottom when it comes to prosperity by the World Economic Forum as revealed in Zambia’s Global Competitiveness Stinks, World Economic Forum Reveals …  not due to lack of resources and expertise, no, no, no. 

It is due to a lackluster approach to the basics and the tenants of human aspirations. We get into these group thinks that tell us that aspiration and ambition are wrong; and we buy into it. This is one of the major fallacies that have kept us behind for centuries. 

Does it surprise you that while Caucasoids, Australoids and Mongoloids were still living in curves, Negroids were busy building pyramids, inventing trigonometry, moving from Stone Age to the Iron Age, discovering astronomy and creating sundials, calendars, etc? 

But just what went wrong is the billion dollar question. Part of the answer lies in analyzing our culture and as long as we keep the same aspects of our cultural tenants, we will forever be at the receiving end in human civilization. 

What we need is a cultural revolution, one that tells our kids its okay to be a millionaire, its okay to be filthy rich as long as you are level-headed about it. I don’t know about you, but for me money is one thing I don’t like to worry about … there is too much of it around the world for me to be an outsider. 

We have been analyzing our blog stats and one area with the greatest number of hits per day has to deal with people wanting to read more about wealthy people around the world. This means that more people really want to be wealthy but just want to keep a low profile about it …

We will soon start exploring ways in which any person that visits our classy-daddy-3.gifsite can learn to start generating wealth at grand scales. We will be looking at ways to become rich using your current resources, starting businesses, networking and how that education is the easiest way to increasing one’s net worth. 

It is because of the above that we like to publish stories about some of the world’s wealthiest individuals. And that’s this week’s memo from us here at the Zambian Chronicle … thanks a trillion.

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

Copyrights © 2007 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

Copyrights © 2007 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc.  

   

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‘I Wanted the Biggest’

Venture capitalist Tom Perkins is making the media rounds these days to promote his new autobiography, “Valley Boy.”

Tom PerkinsOn 60 Minutes last night (see video clips here), Mr. Perkins showed off his 289-foot sailboat, the Maltese Falcon, which is the largest privately-owned sailboat in the world. While the display may be repulsive to some, I found Mr. Perkins’ honesty about his showy ways refreshing.

Lesley Stahl, for instance, asked Mr. Perkins why he needed to have the biggest boat.

“I could give you some technical reasons why it really has got to be big to work right,” he said. “But I just wanted the biggest boat.” He added: “Do I have an ego? Yes. Is it big? Yes.”

Mr. Perkins was a bit more coy about the boat’s actual cost. He says the that the rule of thumb with big yachts is $1 million per meter. But Ms. Stahl said she’d heard the boat cost between $150 million and $300 million. Mr. Perkins says it didn’t cost $300 million, but he declined to give a number, beyond saying “I’m embarrased about how much it cost. There’s the homeless and charity and a lot of things you can do with that money that would improve the world.”

At one point, Mr. Perkins strings nautical flags up the masts that spell out the following: “Rarely does one have the privilege of witnessing vulgar ostentation displayed on such a scale.”

Ms. Stahl went on to list just a few of Mr. Perkins’ playthings: the Bentley, the $450,000 Porsche, the Aston Martin, the second yacht, the 900-year-old moated estate in England. Ms. Stahl asserted that with all these baubles, Mr. Perkins likes to show off.

“Guilty as charged,” he said. He went on to say that his need for conspicuous consumption probably goes back to his mother, who was always wishing for things his poor family couldn’t buy. “The fact that we didn’t have any money was very evident in my life,” he said. “She talked about it all the time. That rubbed off on me.”

Granted, blaming your $150 million sailboat on your mom may be a stretch. But Mr. Perkins should get some credit for saying what so many rich people think but won’t say: I want the biggest, and I want the best. I worked hard to earn my fortune and I deserve to do what I want with it — even if it doesn’t help the world.

In an age in which the wealthy hide their yachts, mansions and jets behind populist rhetoric (they’re just normal, humble guys — or they bought the boat/mansion/jet “for my family”), Mr. Perkins tells it like it is. He’s rich, he’s vulgar and he’s proud.

October 19, 2007, 11:47 am

Invasion of the Yacht-Spotters

You’ve heard of train-spotters and maybe even plane-spotters. Now comes a new innovation in the world of wealth voyeurism: yacht-spotters.

Yacht-spotters are boat-obsessed individuals around the world who hang around docks, marinas, shipyards and ports snapping photos of megayachts and charting their migratory patterns. Some are in the yacht business; others live by the water or own boats themselves. But all share what they call a “passion” for rich people’s boats.

Yacht-spottersTheir numbers are rising, lifted by a tide of new Web forums and the spawning of more and more big yachts around the world. The number of private boats under contract that are longer than 120 feet has more than doubled over the last four years — it’s now 370, according to data about to be released by Showboats International.

My print column today looks at the rise in yacht-spotting sites, and how they’ve become something of an annoyance to rich, private boaters. As Jonathan Beckett of Nigel Burgess told me: “It’s a bit disturbing that people can now track exactly where a certain megayacht is located or where she’s anchored. I can see how it might be useful to some people. But I don’t think it’s very healthy.”

Still, most of the sites are innocent enough. And these sites make for entertaining Web browsing, especially for those who like to peek into the lives of the wealthy.

The three top sites are Yachtspotter, the Megayachts forum, and Superyacht Times.

Some of my favorite threads on those sites show the less-visible sides of the boating world. Take this thread on Yachtspotters, which shows high-priced yachts in various wrecks, scrapes and groundings.

Other threads track boat movements. Want to see where Larry Ellison’s 454-foot ship, Rising Sun, has been over the summer? Click here. And here’s a link to the recent movements of Octopus, Paul Allen’s 414-foot vessel. (How such a huge boat managed to dock in Yap, Micronesia is beyond me.)

The sites also have endless shots of the boats at anchor, docked at marinas, lit up at night, and squeezed between other yachts at Cannes. The Megayachts forum has some especially great photos on this thread. Another of my favorite threads is about strange or bad-looking yachts. And for those into scenery, here’s a great thread on Yachtspotter with pictures from the Monaco boat show.

Some of the wealthy may be a bit bothered by all the attention their water toys attract. But if a billionaire builds a 414-foot boat, he or she can expect (if not want) a little attention. And after all, isn’t one of the most-important responsibilities of great wealth to provide fantasy for the general public?

August 24, 2007, 11:03 am

The Rich and the Environment

At Davos earlier this year, Sergey Brin, the Google guy and self-described environmentalist, defended his use of a Boeing 767 private jet by saying he purchased carbon offsets. Carbon offsets, or credits, are donations to help mitigate the impact on the environment from carbon emissions.

A yachtBut even Mr. Brin admitted he didn’t know whether carbon offsets really helped.

“I’m not sure,” he told reporters. “I think it does something. But I think I would pursue something more specialized and personal” rather than relying uniquely on offsets, which, are “the most expedient thing I could do.”

The green movement has become the latest thorn in the side of the rich. They want their luxuries — their fleets of private jets (10,000 in the U.S. and counting), mega-yachts, cars, and giant estates. But they don’t want to be pilloried by the press as pollution hogs. Or, as a recent humor piece in the New Yorker said of a fictional lottery winner: “I’ve been thinking a lot about the environment now that I own so much of it.”

So the rich are coming with new ways to shrink their environmental footprints, without giving up their designer shoes.

My column today looks at three luxuries — yachts, private jets and mansions — that the rich are trying to make more environmentally acceptable.

For jets, they’re buying carbon offsets. For yachts, they’re installing ocean-monitoring equipment (presumably for determining how much the oceans are warming due to yacht emissions). And for homes, they’re building 7,500-foot EcoManors.

It’s easy to ridicule the moves as guilt payments. And they certainly don’t represent much of a sacrifice: A carbon offset for a $20,000 private jet charter will only cost you about $70 — which, by the way, is tax-deductible. If the rich really were truly dedicated to the environment, they would drive smaller cars, build smaller houses and trade their Feadships in for kayaks.

But c’mon — that’s not going to happen.

As Eric Carlson of the Carbon Fund told me: “These people aren’t required to do anything. We should praise those who make an effort.” Plus, as he and others say, the rich could take the lead in helping to fund alternative-energy markets, and thus drive down prices so they can become more available to the rest of us.

What do you think? Are the new green-friendly rich pioneers, or hypocrites?

July 26, 2007, 1:20 pm

Ellison’s New Yacht

Larry Ellison already owns the second-largest private yacht in the world — his 454-foot Rising Sun.

Rising SunNow, he’s building another one.

According to the latest issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine, Mr. Ellison has commissioned a new yacht to be built in Europe. The mag doesn’t offer many details. Yet yacht-industry experts tell me that the new Ellison boat is slated to be about 80 meters long and is being built by Feadship. It’s scheduled for delivery sometime after 2010.

Why, you might ask, does Larry Ellison need another yacht?

Because Rising Sun is too big.

As Wealth Report readers might remember, Mr. Ellison has been complaining for years that the boat he built specifically to be the longest in the world — or at least to be longer than Paul Allen’s — turned out to be rather impractical. He can’t dock at most of the world’s marinas, since his boat exceeds size limits. When he pulls into shore, he has to tie up with oil takers and container ships at industrial ports. (Not very posh.) Or he has to anchor offshore and take tenders to the dock.

Larry’s other complaint, according to friends, is the “lack of intimate spaces” on the boat. With its Zen-like, modern design, the boat feels cold and imposing both inside and out. “It’s like walking in an empty mall,” says one friend who’s been on the ship.

So Ellison sold a share in the boat to friend and fellow billionaire David Geffen. It’s unclear whether his new boat means he’ll hang on to Rising Sun, sell it to Geffen or another buyer, or keep his share.

For now, however, it looks one of America’s flashiest billionaires may actually be downsizing.

July 12, 2007, 4:00 pm

Over the Top, Under the Sea

The superrich like to go places that mere millionaires can’t. Like space. Or the bottom of the sea — in a private luxury submarine.

According to this article in the International Herald-Tribune by my former Journal colleague A. Craig Copetas, more and more of today’s wealthy are buying large, personal subs to explore the ocean floor.

Copetas writes: “Journeying to see what’s on the bottom aboard a personal submersible is a wretched excess guaranteed to trump the average mogul’s stable of vintage Bugattis or a $38 million round-trip ticket to the International Space Station aboard a Russian rocket.”

The article quotes sub builders and experts saying there are now about 100 luxury subs cruising the seas. A 10-passenger sub will run you about $10 million, while a model with five staterooms, five bathrooms and two kitchens will run about $25 million.

But buyer beware: Governments get defensive when they detect unidentified subs in their waters — especially those with sonar scanners that can be confused with torpedo tubes.

Yacht experts tell me that Paul Allen’s boat, Octopus, has a personal submarine that holds 10 people. Yet they add that it took months to get the craft working properly, since it was stowed in a special James Bond-like hold in the yacht hull. The sub is painted bright yellow — Mr. Allen is a Beatles fan.

Yacht folks also tell me that Russian oil magnate Roman Abromovich has a two-person “run-around sub.” It’s stored on his boat Pelorus. (Update: A spokesman for Mr. Abramovich says the oil tycoon doesn’t own any subs.)

Still, as one yacht broker put it: “You have to be a little odd to want one of these.”

July 2, 2007, 11:59 am

Are the Rich Overborrowing?

When it comes to bad loans, most of the attention these days is on the subprime market: Too many banks made too many loans to people who didn’t have the incomes to support their payments.

A handshake with moneyNow that the subprime market is drying up, banks are turning to the wealthy to keep up the revenue stream. The rich are rich, they figure — they will always be able to pay the loans back and have plenty of assets to back them up.

Yet every loan has risk. And as banks get more aggressive in writing loans to the wealthy, they are increasingly underestimating the amount of leverage that the rich have taken on in recent years.

I’ve written about these risks before. But an article in the New York Times by Christine Haughney shows lending to the rich has reached new extremes. According to the article — its headline is “The $3.6 Million Mortgage” — the number of multi-million-dollar mortgages in New York has exploded, with some banks going beyond their lending guidelines.

Keith Kantrowitz, the president of Power Express Mortgage Bankers, told the Times that the average mortgage requested by his borrowers in Manhattan has nearly tripled in the last two years to about $4 million. He’s even arranging interest-only mortgages for four borrowers in Manhattan, each for $30 million or more.

The article says the rich borrowers are using the money for real-estate investments, and that most of them are “overqualified.” Yet the article fails to emphasize the risks inherent in such loans. The New York property market could plunge, leaving the borrowers with big losses. All you have to do is look at the Miami condo market to see what happens to wealthy flippers and speculators when property prices tumble.

And the rich aren’t just leveraging houses. Financing for yachts and jets has also soared. Yacht brokers tell me that borrowers today can finance 60% of the value of their yachts — with some stretching even higher. That’s a big risk for a relativelty illiquid market (pardon the pun) with a history of price swings. The same holds true for art and jets, which have become equally large sources of lending.

I’m not saying high-end lending is poised for a meltdown. But anyone who thinks loans to the rich are no-risk propositions should remember the late 1980s.

June 4, 2007, 3:42 pm

An Even Bigger Biggest Yacht

I was browsing through my latest issue of Yachts magazine — I am what’s known as an “aspirational reader,” since my boating experience consists of renting a kayak once a summer — when I noticed a stunning advertisement.

BlueprintsThe ad was for a yacht-brokerage firm called 4yacht.com. They were listing a very big yacht named Everest. I don’t mean big as in 300 or 400-feet big. I mean big as in 656-feet big. That’s right, 656 feet — which is pretty much a private cruise ship, without all the people or the buffet rooms to clutter things up. Here’s another listing for the boat on Yacht World:

The 200-Meter “EVEREST” can have accommodations for 36 passengers and guests consisting of 17 apartments and an Owners private penthouse suite on the top deck. Every suite will have private terraces. In addition the yacht will have an outside swimming pool with a cinema arrangement, large gymnasium, sauna, steam rooms, indoor cinema, and a beach club with side folding platforms port and starboard, as well as a large drive-in docking facility at the aft end for boats and a small submarine. Price on request. Serious Inquiries Only!!!

Since I recently wrote about the world’s largest yacht under construction, the Eclipse, I was a bit confused. Was Everest eclipsing Eclipse? And if Everest represented the highest peak in yachting, what are they going to call the next biggest boat? Bigger than Everest?

For help, I called Diane Byrne, the executive editor of Power and Motoryacht magazine. Diane writes the magazine’s annual list of world’s largest yachts and follows this stuff obsessively.

She says Everest isn’t really a boat. It’s a proposal — a set of preliminary blueprints that brokers and designers try to pitch to potential buyers. Brokers like proposals because they help potential buyers have something more concrete to look at when shopping around. And buyers like them because they help reduce construction time by a year or two, since some of the basic design work and logistics have already been done.

“The upper end of the yacht market has exploded, so there’s been a movement by designers and builders to create proposals,” Diane said.

Of course, any buyer of Everest would have some big challenges to overcome. For one thing, the boat is to big to dock in any standard marina. “They would have to dock in a commercial, cruise-ship terminal, and I’m not sure cruise terminals would even let them,” Diane says. “And that’s not as fun, since there’s an element of showing off” with boats this size.

And of course, there’s the price tag. The “whisper” price for Everest is 350 million euros. That’s right, euros.

May 25, 2007, 12:20 pm

The Yacht Shortage

First we heard about the Gulfstream shortage. Then the Ferrari shortage and the Rothko shortage.

A yachtNow, in the latest sign of the skewed economics of today’s wealth boom, we learn about the yacht shortage. According to yacht builders in the U.S. and Europe, the waiting lists for megayachts are now stretching to three years or more. The problem: too many yacht buyers, not enough yacht-making capacity. Yacht makers are expanding as fast as they can to meet demand. But finding qualified labor is difficult — there are only so many plumbers who can install antique French faucets for nautical use. And other yards are leery of expanding too rapidly, lest the boom turn into a bust.

Yet the imbalance between supply and demand in the yachting world has also created an interesting arbitrage opportunity. Meet the yacht flippers — people who commission yachts and then sell the half-finished or almost-finished boats to other buyers for multi-million-dollar premiums. It’s like real-estate flipping, but with $35 million boats. And it’s become a highly profitable business.

My print column today offers a peek into the deals of three of today’s biggest yacht flippers — Terry Taylor, Rick Hendrick and Felix Sabates, the king of flippers. Mr. Taylor, for instance, has purchased five yachts since 2001 but is currently boatless, since he’s sold them all. Mr. Sabates has flipped more than 18 boats over the past 15 years or so, but at least for now his flipping days are over — he was buying so many boats from Trinity Yachts that he decided to become a partner.

Just like real estate, yacht flipping carries risks. If the wealth boom fades and the yacht market tanks, the flippers could be left with pricey boats they’ll have to own. But they’re rich enough that they can afford it. (Who knows, they might even enjoy owning a boat!) And for now, flippers seem to be having the most fun in the boating world.

“Flipping boats,” says Mr. Sabates, “is a better business than building them!”

May 21, 2007, 2:37 pm

How the Rich Spend Their Summer

While the broader retail and consumer sector may be slowing, spending by the rich continues to astound.

A new survey of 198 people worth $10 million or more, conducted by Prince & Associates for Elite Traveler magazine, shows that the wealthy will spend 56% more this summer than in 2005.

Yacht charters top the list, with $384,000 in planned spending, which sounds about right, given that big yachts now charter for $200,000 to $250,000 a week. (See average planned spending of Prince respondents in 10 categories below.)

Ranking second was redecorating. Granted, redecorating may not seem like a popular summer pasttime for the rich. But since they’re usually traveling for the season, it’s an optimal time to let in the contractors and install that new lap pool or home theater.

Another high-ranking spending category: “experiential excursions.” For those unfamiliar with this new breed of primal-luxury vacation, they usually involve paying some high-priced guide to take you and your family running with springbok in Botsawana, trekking with penguins in Chile or learning wine-making in New Zealand.

Of all the categories, however, the one that almost all respondents planned to spend money on was charity. Fully 98% of them planned to donate to charity this summer, averaging $82,000. All those summer fundraisers may also explain why the rich plan to spend $56,000 on entertaining, and $24,000 for wine for entertainment.

Summer Activity Average Planned Spending
Yacht rentals $384,000
Redecorating $129,000
Villa rentals $106,000
Experiential excursions $103,000
Jewelry/watches $94,000
Luxury cruises $92,000
Charitable giving $82,000
Vacation-home rentals $82,000
Out-of-home spa services $61,000
Summer entertaining $56,000

May 8, 2007, 11:40 am

The Ferrari Shortage

Buying a Ferrari is one of the joys of being rich.

It’s one of those “you-know-you’ve-made-it-when” rites of passage, along with the house in the Hamptons (or Aspen or Palm Beach) and the American Express black card.

FerrarisBut today there are so many newly minted multi-millionaires and billionaires around the world that there simply aren’t enough Ferarris to go around. An article in today’s Journal by Gabriel Kahn explains that the waiting list for a new Ferrari has grown from the standard 12 months to 24 months or more in Hong Kong, the U.S., Australia and England.

The reason: huge demand for Ferraris among the new rich in Russia, the Middle East and Asia.

Ferrari’s chairman, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, swore in 1990 that Ferrari would never make more than 5,000 cars per year. Now they’re making 5,700 and still can’t keep up with demand: “We started to consider 18 months [to wait] ideal, but now we can’t even keep up with that.”

To its credit, Ferrari isn’t doubling its production to keep up with the demand (thus avoiding the mass-luxury trap that has beset Jaguar, Mercedes and others).

But the result is a new V-VIP economy, where mere millionaires are bumped down the Ferrari waiting list by Arab sheikhs and Russian oligarchs who have been longtime customers and are buying two or three cars at a time. (Ferrari denies that it fiddles with the list, but let’s get real — the have-mores get better treatment than the haves in all luxury businesses.)

And Ferraris aren’t the only luxury product with a waiting list. Try commissioning a new 250-foot yacht these days. You’ll find yourself on a waiting list of at least a year, sometimes two. Want to buy one of Gulfstream’s new top-of-the-line G550s? Prepare to wait at least a year.

The millionaire glut is even appearing in the investment world. There are so many rich investors trying to get into the top hedge funds and private-equity funds these days that many are getting turned down. Private banks say one of the biggest problems for their clients today is “access” — finding top managers who are willing to take money from their rich clients.

What to make of this new luxury logjam? For the wealthy, it’s a constant headache. After all, they worked hard to make their fortunes and now they want the rewards. Spending $125 million for a boat and then being told to “get in line” has got to be humiliating for today’s rich.

Yet the rich have to realize that the economic forces that are making them rich — liquidity, globalization, technology — are making lots of other people rich too. And as more and more people get rich, they can’t all have the same luxury goods. Or if they can, they’re no longer luxury goods.

So the wealthy need to adjust their sense of privilege. They should accept that they may be rich, but they’re no longer that special. There are plenty of people just like them — and plenty more who are even richer. If today’s wealthy really want a sports car that they can buy today and drive tomorrow, they might have to settle for a Porsche.

April 9, 2007, 11:58 am

Experience Versus Ownership

For the rich, ownership used to be everything.

Ten years ago, no self-respecting multi-millionaire or billionaire would have been caught dead in a rented car, rented house or rented boat. What was the point of being rich if you couldn’t own your own status symbols?

A YachtPlus yachtNow, a sea change is sweeping through the luxury world in the form of fractional ownership. It started with jets, then moved to plush vacation homes (rented by destination clubs) and automobiles available from exotic-car clubs.

The next wave in fractional ownership? Yachts. Evan Roth, of BBR Partners, the New York multi-family office, sent me this article by Shelley Emling in the International Herald Tribune about YachtPlus. The U.K.-based company is building a fleet of 10 yachts to be sold off in fractional pieces. Each of the 132-foot long boats will be divided into eight shares sold for $2 million each. (For those about to get out their calculators, that works out to $121,212.12 a foot.)

In the article, Han Verstraete, chief executive of YachtPlus, says that the rich no longer prize ownership. They prize experiences.

“My typical customer will have three real-estate assets and perhaps also do some sharing of jets,” he says. “The yacht experience is the experience these people are seeking next.”

The article also quotes James Lawson, senior research director at Ledbury Research, saying that “many wealthy people are looking for driving lessons organized by Ferrari, cooking lessons by celebrity chefs, and exclusive travel and holiday experiences. Experience is becoming more important than ownership.”

This is the common sales pitch from all fractional companies. Why own when you can co-own? Why deal with the hassles of finding a plumber for your house in Cabo, repairing the transmission on the Ferrari, and hiring your own pilots when you can let someone else do it and still enjoy the ride?

It’s a reasonable argument — up to a point. Today’s wealthy do indeed value experiences as much as things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to share the cost of their things. Fractional ownership is likely to keep growing as the ranks of wealthy and affluent explode. But the industry will have to overcome three major hurdles:

1. The Christmas-Vacation Effect. Tanner & Haley, the first destination club, went bankrupt in part because all of its members wanted to be in the same vacation spots at the same times. So the company had to rent homes to accommodate the unexpected demand. Fractional ownership is based on the premise that all owners will want to use the asset at different times. But, inevitably, they all want to use their toys during peak holiday times — Christmas and New Year, Easter break, and August. When all eight owners of the YachtPlus yacht want to use the boat for the first two weeks in August, what happens? (Even rigorous scheduling and point systems leave people disappointed.)

2. The Wealthy Don’t Like to Share. These are people who have worked hard for their fortunes and are used to getting top treatment. They like things their way. Fractional yacht-ownership has run into trouble in the past because owners typically want their own kind of boat, crew service and trip itineraries. Can you imagine eight multi-millionaires trying to agree on flatware? (Another potential sticking point is YachtPlus’s yachts — while innovative, they look a bit like floating VW Beetles.)

3. Economics. In the end, fractional ownership is only as strong as the partners. What if you buy a boat with eight people and two end up bankrupt? What if the company selling the shares suddenly finds itself in dire straits (a la Tanner & Haley)? While fractional ownership may spread the costs of ownership, it also expands the pool of risks.

And as renting and chartering becomes increasingly popular for top cars, yachts, planes and mansions, co-owning starts to look less attractive. Maybe I’m wrong. But fractional ownership looks to me like it has the potential to combine the worst of both worlds — the price of ownership combined with the personal costs of sharing.

Fractional companies, I welcome your thoughts.

March 6, 2007, 12:16 pm

Yacht Parking

All those wealthy boaters buying megayachts are suddenly in need of yacht parking spots. Hence the sudden rise of the megayacht marina.

YachtsAccording to an Associated Press article by David McFadden, so-called megamarinas in the Caribbean are proliferating.

Leading the pack is Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas, which is getting a $200 million facelift to handle bigger boats. The marina is big enough to boast a dock for Larry Ellison’s 452-foot Rising Sun. And in Grenada, workers have broken ground on a $562 million resort and marina with spaces for boats longer than 250 feet.

Megayacht marinas are also becoming big business beyond the Caribbean. Rhode Island-based O’Neill Properties is building a marina called the Newport Club, on Aquidneck Island. It will have 1,500 marina slips and space for yachts as large as Rising Sun.

The Mediterranean is still king of the megayacht marinas, with more than 10 times as many large-boat berths as the Caribbean. Yet the Associated Press article quotes Michael J. Howorth, a British maritime writer and yacht captain, saying that the Mediterranean may be close to its limit: “There’s no place else to build in the Mediterranean and there’s a lot of local antipathy to new marinas.”

January 12, 2007, 9:13 am

Can Yachts Get Any Bigger? Yes!

abramovichAt a yacht show last year, I asked a few boating executives what the natural “limit” would be on private yachts. Yachts were growing so outlandishly large that I figured there had to be a breaking point. At more than 400 feet, you’re really talking about a cruise ship with no passengers, rather than a private yacht. The executives told me that 450 feet was the likely limit. Larry Ellison was already grumbling about how his yacht, the 454-foot Rising Sun, was too big to get into most private marinas. And he complained to friends that he felt “lost” in the ship’s giant rooms.

Turns out, the executives were wrong.

My column today is about the biggest private yacht in the world, being built by Russian Roman Abramovich. It’s called Eclipse and it will be at least 525 feet, and probably longer. Abramovich’s goal was to “eclipse” Dubai, the 525-foot monster owned by a sheikh.

In other words, there is no physical limit to yachts. They will grow as big as today’s fortunes (and egos) allow.

January 8, 2007, 2:38 pm

A Boating Deal?

Larry Ellison, the Oracle chief known for his boat fetish, has been has trying for months to unload his super-yacht, Rising Sun. The 454-foot white elephant, which cost more than $250 million to build, is simply too big to dock at most marinas. And Ellison has told friends he felt “lost” on board because of its size.

Larry EllisonNow an old friend has apparently come along to bail him out. According to people in the yachting world, fellow California billionaire David Geffen has purchased a part-ownership in Rising Sun. The deal, akin to fractional ownership, will allow Geffen to use the boat part of the time and pay an equivalent part of the overhead. It’s unclear how much Geffen purchased or what he paid. But a person familiar with the deal said he paid upwards of $125 million for a half-ownership.

Geffen and Ellison couldn’t be reached for comment this morning. Rumors of a deal surfaced last week on Valleywag. Ellison told Vanity Fair in 2005 that he had considered selling the boat but changed his mind.

“It is absolutely excessive,” he told the magazine. “No question about it. When I was talking about selling her, I’d only spent 10 days with her and I didn’t know then whether it was newness or the scale that was the problem. Turns out, it was the newness. It’s really only the size of a very large house.”

Fractional deals have been part of the yachting world for years. But they rarely work: Both owners usually want the boat during the same periods (December holidays, Easter, August, etc.), and they often bicker over costs.

But brokers say the Geffen-Ellison merger stands a better chance because the two are close friends.

“If the deal is structured well, with a lot of detail, this could work out well for the two of them,” said one broker.

Source: Wall Street Blog

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GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa battles stereotype of Africa in chaos.

Even for a country with a relatively stable democracy and growing economy, Zambia hasn’t had much luck finding Americans willing to invest there.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said he hopes to change that by introducing more Americans to his country and fighting the stereotype of Africa as a place defined by war and chaos.

Speaking to local business leaders Monday, Mwanawasa said Zambia has become a center of peace and prosperity in the region. The country has emerged from a long period of economic decline to achieve an average annual 5 percent growth in gross domestic product for the last five years.

“It’s the first time the country is experiencing such strong positive results,” the Zambian leader said, adding that sustaining the success could bring about an economic transformation to improve the lives of ordinary people.

The landlocked country of 12 million people in southern Africa still suffers from high unemployment and crippling poverty, with about 68 percent of the population falling below the poverty line of $1 per day.

Zambia has taken a strong stance against corruption and created a foundation based on the rule of law and respect for private property, Mwanawasa said.

The country’s main industries are copper mining, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.

A former British protectorate that gained independence in 1964, Zambia is encouraging more foreign direct investment and growth of the private sector to help reduce poverty.

“When you invest in Zambia, you’re putting GDP in the pockets of Zambian people,” Mwanawasa said.

Mwanawasa, 59, was in the United States for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. He traveled here at the invitation of the Seattle-based Initiative for Global Development, a national network of business leaders promoting policies to end global poverty.

He and a delegation of senior government officials and business leaders were scheduled to visit the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH, Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks on Monday.

Mwanawasa said he had dinner Sunday at the house of former Microsoft executive Paul Maritz, a Zimbabwe native who lives on Mercer Island.

While Zambia has had a rush of investment from China recently, attracting U.S. business has been an uphill battle.

On previous visits to the U.S., “the response hasn’t been encouraging,” Mwanawasa said.

“So far Africa has been known only for the bad news,” said Felix Mutati, Zambia’s minister of commerce. “In Africa, we’ve got problems with HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases,” he said, “but we’re not a diseased country.”

In Zambia, the Gates Foundation funds a malaria-control program run by PATH that aims to cut malaria cases by 75 percent and become a model for the rest of Africa.

Zambia has introduced incentives to encourage foreign enterprises, such as tax-free profits for the first five years and duty-free imports of capital equipment, said Mutati.

Energy, IT infrastructure, agriculture and eco-tourism are promising areas for development, he added.

“We don’t want help,” Mutati said. “We want investment. We want partnership.”

Zambia’s slide into poverty began after world copper prices fell in the 1970s. Since then, the economy has become somewhat more diversified, even as the price of copper has climbed.

The government began privatizing the copper industry in the 1990s. Copper contributed 75 percent of the GDP in 2002 but only about 45 percent last year, said Mutati.

Asked about the political and economic crisis in neighboring Zimbabwe, Mwanawasa called the situation “extremely worrying” but added that economic sanctions will not help.

He threatened to boycott a European-African summit meeting in December if Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was excluded, saying Western leaders must be willing to talk to the leader widely considered an international pariah.

The chaos in Zimbabwe has choked off tourism, diverting more visitors to Zambia to see Victoria Falls, the spectacular milewide waterfall on the border between the two countries.

With room for only about 1,500 visitors, hotels in nearby Livingstone can’t cope with the influx, Mutati said. Its tiny airport, which had just a few flights a week three years ago, has 28 flights a week now. Several new hotels are under construction.

While Chinese companies have been criticized for labor practices in Africa, overall the influx of investment from China has been a good thing, Mutati said.

Cautious Western companies have hesitated too long. “They would go on their computers and do spreadsheets about risk,” he said, while “the Chinese make a decision first.”

Chinese have invested $900 million in Zambia for two economic zones focused on copper and agricultural processing, creating 60,000 jobs.

“Now we can see the West is saying we must run to Africa because if China dominates Africa, that sphere of influence can become critical as we go forward,” Mutati said.

Zambia also needs American-style business, said Wamulume Kalabo, chairman of the Zambia Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

U.S. companies tend to hire and train local people, with English as a common language. Chinese companies tend to hire their own citizens to work in Zambia’s mines and manufacturing sites because of the difficulty of communicating.

“The local people are not seeing the benefit initially,” Kalabo said, “because very few of them are being absorbed into the system, and the main reason is the lack of communication.”

Kristi Heim: 206-464-2718 or kheim@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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